Hall H tends to be the domain of super-heroes, zombies, Jedis, and their ilk. Super-powered, supernatural types. There’s not a lot time devoted to Westerns or cowboys (except when the cowboys meet super-powered, supernatural types in something like Cowboys & Aliens). Today’s panel for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight was a rare exception, with the modern master of genre mashups returning to Comic-Con to present his upcoming opus about a wagon full of bounty hunters trying to find shelter during a blizzard.

Even before the panel started, the Weinstein Company unveiled a brand-new poster for the occasion:

The show got underway with a special video hosted by Samuel L. Jackson on the film’s unique format, Ultra Panavision 70mm (which Jackson promised would make the film “even doper”). After the video, which temporarily turned Hall H into a giant film school lecture hall, Tarantino took the stage to reveal that he’d just spent two weeks cutting together a special seven-minute scene from the movie, just for Comic-Con. “I’m waiting for your response to what we did,” he said.

“I remember the days I used to come here in ’88 and ’89,” he continued, “when July was the most important time of the year. I made $10,000 a year and you’d save all year long so you can come down here and just spend money on bootleg videos and posters and Man From U.N.C.L.E. lunch boxes. They say, it’s not about comic books anymore; that’s BS. I came here two years and filled all kinds of holes in my comic book collection.”

Next, Tarantino discussed the decision to shoot in Ultra Panavision. “We were just looking for really cool scope 70mm,” he said. “Then we found this, which is the biggest format available, aside from that Grand Canyon stuff at Disney World. It’s not like they used lenses like this on Ben-Hur, they used these lenses on Ben-Hur. These are the lenses that shot Ben-Hur. These are the same lenses they used.” Tarantino’s camera department got a round of applause (which might be the first time a camera department has gotten a round of applause at Comic-Con).

“I’m not a fan of digital projection,” continued Tarantino. “By losing film projection, we’ve already ceded too much ground to the barbarians. I didn’t work 20 years to work to diminishing returns. So I thought, if i shoot it in 70mm, they have to release it in 70mm because they wouldn’t waste that money ... There’s this notion that 70mm is for shooting travelogues. No. When you shoot a big format like that and indoors it can actually be more intimate and closer to the actors. It’s for shooting great drama.” And with that, Tarantino introduced the special Comic-Con exclusive scene. The tagline for the film: “If you’re looking for revenge, take a number.”

After the footage, Tarantino brought his cast to the stage: Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Bruce Dern. Leigh has a black eye and broken nose throughout the film. Russell said of working with Tarantino, “I mean this sincerely and I think the great actors sitting here would agree: I would wish that everyone has the opportunity to work with Quentin once. It’s a circus you want to be a part of.”

A little girl dressed as The Bride from Kill Bill asked a question; would there be any animation in The Hateful Eight? QT’s response: “Where were you when I needed you? That actually would’ve been a great idea for the flashbacks!” After the next audience member admitted he’d read the leaked script (to audible gasps from the Hall H crowd), Tarantino talked about that whole controversy. “What pissed me off about what happened with the leak ... once I finish the script I’m [usually] ready for production. With this one, I wasn’t there yet. There were certain plot threads I wasn’t ready to tie up yet, but I knew I had a few more drafts to go. So even though I yelled and screamed, I continued doing what I planned to do. The third draft is the one that we wound up shooting. Just a little more public than usual.”

Jennifer Jason Leigh described her character as “a bit feral. Crazy like a fox.” Back to Tarantino, who said “I actually feel that when it comes to Westerns, at least nowadays, you have to make three Westerns to call yourself a Western director. Otherwise you’re a dabbler. But I will eventually make a third Western so I can officially call myself a Western director.” When the topic of a Kill Bill: Vol 3 came up, Tarantino said there are still no official plans to do it, but that he would love to make the film some day, and that he discusses it from time to time with Uma Thurman.

Bichir got his part as “The Mexican” on the recommendation of Robert Rodriguez. (“I love you Robert!” Bichir loudly proclaimed.) Will Tarantino retire in the near future, something’s he’s teased before? “We’ll see what ends up happening,” he said. “That quote wasn’t so much a mission statement as me having an interesting discussion about an artist’s vitality in public, in a world where that’s not a good thing to do. But I do kind of like the idea of 10 and done. There’s a neat thing about that. But if things change, if I can’t release on film, we might not even get to 10. But I might make 15. Who the hell knows?”

“If digital projection is what movies are becoming,” said Tarantino (who Bruce Dern calls “The Kid”), “I should just move to TV. I can make miniseries. Little movies for television. If I could write a story and it ends up being 8 hours, then good!” A little girl asked Tarantino to pick his favorite thing he ever wrote. His pick: “The scene in the French farm house at the beginning of Inglorious Basterds. Before that it was the whole Sicilian speech in True Romance.” Next came the panel’s big announcement: The Hateful Eight will be scored by legendary composer Ennio Morricone; it will be his first Western score in 40 years.

No topping that news; with that the panel was over. The Hateful Eight opens in select theaters (in 70mm!) on December 25.

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