Grindhouse has had a pretty rough weekend at the box office, earning only $11.6 million. The studio was expecting much bigger numbers for this three hour gore-filled extravaganza.
I suppose this is another example of the fact that big pre-opening buzz (especially on the internet), does not guarantee big box office numbers on opening weekend. Sure, 300 kicked butt and made tons of money, but that was a more mainstream movie than the extremely niche-targeting double feature homage to exploitative shlock B-movies from the 1970’s.
Personally I really enjoyed the first half of the double feature, Planet Terror (click here for my review), but I thought that Quentin Tarantino’s contribution, Death Proof was a total snoozer. A number of people walked out during Tarantino’s movie and I didn’t blame them at all. Despite many critics saying it was the “better” of the two films, I reviewed from the point of view of what an average moviegoer would like and I thought it was torture to sit through. I had also noted elsewhere a month or two ago that three hours was probably WAY too long for this sort of movie.
Another well-known example was Snakes on a Plane which I never got around to watching myself. That movie was such a hot topic of discussion online before it was released that it even went back into editing to bump it up to an R-rating with more f-bombs due to the buzz in the online community. Well, that didn’t help because it tanked opening weekend and sank like a stone after that.
The double-feature was rated R (and rightfully so) which cut down on the teen crowd who adds so much box office bang for movies on opening weekend, plus the fact that it was Easter weekend may have had something to do with the poor numbers. Bottom line is that this was a very narrow niche-targeting film that just didn’t appeal to a wide audience. I’m sure they were hoping for a Blair Witch type of box office performance, but it’s very difficult to catch lightning in a bottle. You never know what movie is going to capture the imagination of the public and come out of nowhere to make a ton of money.
I think Grindhouse will make up any losses when it goes to DVD and they release the even gorier and no-doubt more nudity/sex filled unrated version. It’ll probably even include those missing reels that were noted during the movie.