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New York Times film critic O.A. Scott described director Quentin Tarantino’s latest film ‘The Hateful Eight,’ as having an “impulse to imagine how the fantasy world of film genres might intersect with the cruelty of real-world history and offer a kind of belated symbolic redress.”  Full of violence and racial tension, ‘The Hateful Eight’ had the potential to shock viewers into movie theaters simply because of its potential to raise ire.  The film, released around Christmas, though, has been anything but a moneymaker, and Tarantino blames the film’s less than stellar box office on New York City police officers.

The connection began when Tarantino, whose films are often riddled with racial slurs and epithets, took part in a Brooklyn rally against police brutality and excessive force against Black Americans.  Flanked by members of Rise up October, an advocacy group supporting families whose relatives have been injured or killed in police custody, Tarantino said he had flown in from Los Angeles to support the organization’s cause.

“I am a human being with a conscience, and when I see murder I cannot stand by,” Tarantino told the crowd.  “I have to call the murdered the murdered and I have to call the murderers the murderers.”

Tarantino claims afterwards he was warned that the New York police unions were planning to picket or otherwise disrupt screenings of ‘The Hateful Eight’ in retaliation.  And while no picket lines officially went up, Tarantino believes that many have been steered away from the film based on the backlash of his protest involvement.

“I am no fan of Tarantino, the filmmaker because there is way too much violence in his work for my taste, but as an activist and an American citizen, I support his right to get into the fray and speak out against rogue cops,” said American University film student Jordan Wade.  “I have heard lots of speculation about how the cops may have been involved in the film’s censure, all of which I hope is unfounded.”

While he remains unapologetic for telling the crowd, “these murdering cops should be in jail or at least be facing charges,” Tarantino emphasized that when he talked about murder he was referring to specific instances in which unarmed individuals, usually Black, were shot and killed.

“All cops are not murderers.  I never said that. I never even implied that,” he told The Los Angeles Times.

“The Hateful Eight” earned $16.2 million its first weekend in wide release, according to U.S. News and World Report. The movie’s earnings during its first weekend is the lowest result for Tarantino’s projects since “Jackie Brown” – which took in only $9.3 million its first weekend in 1997.  His other films showed considerably better debuts, including “Inglourious Basterds” ($38 million), “Django Unchained” ($30.1 million), “Kill Bill: Vol.1” ($22.1 million) and “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” ($25.1 million).

ssherman@afro.com