Things aren’t looking so hot for “Grindhouse” at the box office. After an opening weekend bringing in under $12 million dollars on 2,624 screens, the word circulated quickly that “Grindhouse” was dead-on-arrival. With the blood still fresh and the gun still smoking, Film Threat takes a look at the top reasons “Grindhouse” bombed.
It was named “Grindhouse”…
The film geeks got it, we understood. The average movie-going public however, the ones whose dollars actually make or break films, wasn’t on board with the concept. How do we know this? Because the marketing campaign for “Grindhouse” included the definition of the title just to be safe. If you’ve got a film with a title so obscure you feel the need to define it in advertising, it doesn’t bode well.
It opened on Easter Weekend…
Um, yeah, WHAT THE HELL!?! A grindhouse film or films should not open on a family holiday weekend. The normal movie-goers were out in force, sure, but as it’s a holiday, they were there with grandma, grandpa and the kids. When you’re looking over the marquee trying to figure out what film to watch so as to make everyone in the family happy, chances are you don’t pick “Grindhouse” (unless you have the coolest family ever… most people don’t). The only R-rated zombie film that can get away with an Easter opening and do well is “The Passion of the Christ.”
It was a double-feature…
Many will point to the running time and say that, with a 3 hour+ movie, you’re already eliminating a couple screenings per day therefore lessening the amount of money you bring in daily. While this is true, this hasn’t stopped other 3 hour+ epics from doing extremely well (remember that limp-dick adventure known as “Titanic”). The fact that this was two films, however, just confused people. Already stricken with short attention spans, the average movie-goer was no doubt stuck at the thought of seeing two films when there’s so much more they have to do during the weekend (like Easter egg hunts, changing grandpa’s diaper, etc). Forget all arguments about more bang for your buck, most folks wanted to see their normal length, Will Ferrell-in-homosexually-charged-ice-skating-sequences comedy.
The films were grindhouse films…
The main joy of “Grindhouse,” I feel, is the re-creation of an experience in our pasts: the shitty movie-theater showing shitty films for cheap. For those of us who actually enjoyed the grindhouse theater or its more rural cousin, the drive-in, this film is 3 hours of fond memories and inside-joke-winkery, coupled with two very solid films directed by two of the most amazing directors alive today. But, unless you’re in your late 20′s or older, chances are you didn’t have that experience. As that younger set is the box office demographic, they’re missing the point. And in a society where anything that occurs in “Planet Terror” has probably been done in a videogame anyway, the selling point of the movies themselves comes up short. Finally, for those that do remember those old grindhouse films, they probably remember that the majority of those films were awful. Save a scene here or there, most grindhouse films never delivered on their advertised promise. So, if you think you’re in for two crappy movies, made to look crappier via digital effects or film print aging, AND the overall experience isn’t anything you care about, well, you’re going to wind up skipping this film.
The geeks have not inherited the Earth yet…
I know it feels like we’re close, but the geeks have not conquered the world yet. Despite the fact that computers are cool now, nerds are billionaires and many geeks have a hand in the day-to-day entertainment media, we still don’t make up the majority of movie-goers; that box office cash isn’t coming out of our pockets. If you’re a film geek it’s worse, as you get to regularly see truly amazing films bite the box office bullet and fall through the cracks while something like “Norbit” makes millions upon millions. If we had our way, “Grindhouse” would be #1, “The Reaping” and “Firehouse Dog” wouldn’t crack the top ten and Eddie Murphy would get an electric shock any time he THINKS of getting in a fat suit. But we don’t have our way, and “Grindhouse” is just the latest lamb led to the pop culture slaughter.
Critics liked the movie…
It’s a known fact that anything the critics are fans of will naturally be ignored by the general public in favor of something less worthy, so it’s almost a kiss of death for anyone besides Ebert to like anything nowadays. With a 83% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a favorable score of 78 at MetaCritic (and a 4 1/2 star review from yours truly), “Grindhouse” was doomed. Quentin, Robert… I’m sorry we liked your movie…
There you have it, the top reasons “Grindhouse” bombed its opening weekend. The aftermath? What will this mean for Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino? Will the maverick directors be put on tighter studio leashes for all future films after this debacle? Nahhhhhhh. For one, Robert Rodriguez IS the studio that churned these films out, and as such, if he feels like filming a Muppet masturbating a turtle while Antonio Banderas does a handstand on a land-mine, well, he can do whatever the Hell he wants. You try stopping him. And Tarantino? Like he gives a flying fuck what the box office return was. He’s going to keep writing and making his films exactly the way he wants precisely as he always has. And I’ll be in line waiting.
Mark Bell, Editor-in-mourning-for-”Grindhouse”
Posted on April 9, 2007 in Features by Mark Bell
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