Police are taking credit for the lousy four-week box office showing of Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight, as police unions across the country publicly announced that they would boycott the movie after Tarantino (shown) made controversial remarks at an anti-police rally.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, the first union to call for a boycott of the film, stated,
With nearly 1 million law enforcement officers in this country who have families and friends who support them, the impact that police have economically on a product or project is immense. The law enforcement boycott of cop-hater Quentin Tarantino’s movie is one demonstration of that economic power.
According to the New York Post, Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, released on Christmas Day, has grossed $42.9 million thus far, an apparently unimpressive showing. The Post writes, “At this rate, it’s set to barely pass its production budget of $50 million—meaning big losses for the Weinstein Co., which spent another $25 million to $35 million on prints and promotion.”
Lynch claims that in addition to police, a number of civilians have indicated their support for the boycott, leading to the film’s poor box office showing.
“Can we take full credit for the stinker’s failure?” Lynch said. “Well, one thing we can attest to is that many, many good citizens have told us that they were offended by Tarantino’s ignorant, anti-police remarks and, as a result, have refused to spend their money on this movie.”
Tarantino drew ire from police officers across the country by appearing at the RiseUpOctober anti-police brutality rally in Brooklyn, New York, on October 24, just days after a New York City police officer was shot to death in the line of duty. At the rally, Tarantino was quoted as saying,
I'm a human being with a conscience. And if you believe there's murder going on then you need to rise up and stand up against it. I'm here to say I'm on the side of the murdered.
When I see murders, I do not stand by. I have to call a murder a murder, and I have to call the murderers the murderers.
Tarantino’s remarks at the rally prompted Lynch to call for a boycott of Tarantino’s films. "It’s no surprise that someone who makes a living glorifying crime and violence is a cop-hater, too," said Lynch. "The police officers that Quentin Tarantino calls ‘murderers’ aren’t living in one of his depraved big-screen fantasies — they’re risking and sometimes sacrificing their lives to protect communities from real crime and mayhem."
Police groups in Philadelphia and Los Angeles followed suit, announcing that they too would boycott the film.
In response to the boycott announcements, Tarantino claimed the police were participating in an orchestrated effort to discredit him, and told the LA Times:
What they’re doing is pretty obvious. Instead of dealing with the incidents of police brutality that those people were bringing up, instead of examining the problem of police brutality in this country, better they single me out. Their message is very clear. It’s to shut me down. It’s to discredit me. It is to intimidate me. It is to shut my mouth, and even more important than that, it is to send a message out to any other prominent person that might feel the need to join that side of the argument.
I'm not being intimidated. Frankly, it feels lousy to have a bunch of police mouthpieces call me a cop hater. I'm not a cop hater. That is a misrepresentation. That is slanderous. That is not how I feel.
Still, Tarantino told the Times that he stood by the remarks he made at the RiseUpOctober rally. “I'm not taking back what I said," he asserted. "What I said was the truth.”
It's not clear whether the boycott did in fact deal a blow to the film's box office figures. Forbes' Scott Mendelson offers a different perspective: "There was never much of a reason for The Hateful Eight to break out much larger than it did, controversies or not," he wrote.
Comparing The Hateful Eight to Tarantino's highly successful pictures, Mendelson continued,"It didn’t have a big movie star like Brad Pitt (Inglorious Basterds) or Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained) at the center. It didn’t have a media-friendly/buzzy-inducing revisionist historical narrative at its core."
Mendelson concluded that while the boycott did not likely help the film, "it can't really be argued that it hurt the film either."
Photo of Quentin Tarantino: AP Images