Monday, April 09, 2007

Stupid Bumpkins

Harvey Weinstein has blamed the failure of Grind House at the US box office on the idea that Midwesterners and those from the Southern States failed to understand the appeal and needed 'educating'. Now, I'm sure this is a reason that is used a lot, but to read him using those words..! I guess he's fairly confident nobody from the Midwest or South actually read Nikki Finke's column.

So why the failure? Probably because there was a kind of inner circle that found the films appealing but then a much larger series of outer circles that did not. Any plan to rerelease the project as two films, even with longer running times each, is bound to still fail with the outer circles. There might be repeat business from the already-keens, but not much. If the Weinsteins do try it, they stand a very good chance of looking really quite silly.

I'd have thopught that the way to recoup on this is to offer a series of DVD packages that are truly worth paying for. The inner circle will shell out for a whole string of them if they're significantly different from one another and offer a decent amount of supplementary material. And if they can get Robert to shoot the rest of Machete soon, and very very very cheaply, they'll have a genuine cash-spinner in the direct-to-DVD market. By very very very cheaply I mean no more that $10 million.

But Grind House is never going to fly on the US theatrical circuit. A shame, because Planet Terror looks like great fun and Death Proof appears to be incredible.

Don't expect that Grind House 2 is automatically off the cards though. With a budget of around twenty million for both halves together and a genuinely low-rent approach, by necessity and not just by arch design, they could do very well - and by creating a franchise, catch up a little on the losses from version 1.

14 comments:

Bryan said...

I'm from the midwest and although I haven't seen Grindhouse yet, I thought the commercials were trying entirely too hard to educate people. I felt that they were talking to people like they were idiots who couldn't grasp the idea of a double feature. It isn't as if the midwest doesn't have a bunch of drive-ins or any thing...

Brendon said...

Quite.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brendon. You should come visit the States, b/c this movie is a huge disaster on all fronts. People are not feeling it, and I've talked to friends in the South and even on "the coasts" as Harvey likes to declare, and Death Proof is turning off audiences of all kinds, - geeks, couples, hipsters, etc. I'm not going to argue about Death Proof, as I'm exhausted from AICN, it's simply the worst, most detached and oddly academic movie QT could ever make. There will be no sequel, I'll bet everything on it. This thing is a major embarrassment for all involved. It's going to drop 70-80% next wke. It's got worst buzz in the states than Gigli right now. Trust me.

Anonymous said...

Also, regarding my last comment, let me just say that this was expected to do 20M by everyone in the States. It ended up doing what From Dusk Til Dawn did w/ inflation. This was supposed to be an event picture, but the quality of these pictures is so indulgent and not at all what was advertised and boasted to be that it's bombing. I mean, I've seen it twice at different theatres, and we're talking theatres that are 40% full with 2/3 of the audience walking out during Death Proof. I'm talking actual moans and groans during the horribly pointless diner scene - soon to be infamous for its trivality. I don't think you fully understand the epicness of this film's failure. It's also just another coal for the fire in the states' "critics don't get modern audiences" debate, that I honestly despise. This is Tarantino's Lady in the Water and I don't think he'll ever recover. When you see it, you'll understand.

Brendon said...

Actually, I almost was in the states this weekend. But I'm not.

I loved the Death Proof script, and the clips and trailers...

Hmmmm.

A shame.

Brendon said...

Hang on a minute...

don't thin he'll EVER recover? Blimey. That's an extreme statement.

Mark said...

Saw this, from Box Office Mojo: "Grindhouse was sold on the directors’ names, the style and the novelty instead of story or character. Much of the promotional campaign was dedicated to explaining the term “Grindhouse,” blanking out on the point of emulating niche cinema from the 70s in the first place. It couldn’t work as a spoof because it lacked identifiable references for today’s audiences that patronize similar trash, and it suffered the usual horror comedy dilemma that afflicted Snakes on a Plane and Slither among others: Too funny to be scary, too scary to be funny.”

Gotta agree: when thy get around to marketing it in the rest of the world, concentrate on the stories, the charaters, the cast, and lay off the conceptualizing. Not everyone is a hepcat, but everyone wants to see rip-roarin' entertainment. Well, nearly everyone.

Statesman said...

Hi. This is "Anonymous" aka Statesman (couldn't resist). Ok, let me just state that I'm a HUGE QT fan, I think he's one of the best American directors ever and highly pigeonholed for his love of genre fare. But Death Proof is on all levels a very weird film for QT. First off, he's made a movie that totally/honestly does not deliver on the hype he's still out there pushing it with. This is not a grindhouse movie nor a "car slasher" movie. What this is is Carol Clover's book Men, Women & Chainsaws put to film. QT is in love with that book. For the past year he's been declaring that he'll make a film that finally "delivers on the promises made by the original grindhouse posters." Not the films themselves, mind you, but the posters and their bold, faux-exciting boasts about "thrills" "chills" and a lil' T&A. Now, Death Proof, whether you like it or not, is a whole 'nother entity entirely. Sure, there are some kills, but mainly this is deconstruction of females in slasher movies that is extremely hard to decipher for QT's exact meaning. It's no wonder that audiences aren't grasping it, especially after the lowbrow that is Planet Terror (which I didn't care for either, simply b/c it was repetitive - and no it didn't have to be). Death Proof is like some film student's unsuccessful stab at deconstructing and rebuilding thin, genre-based characters. It doesn't belong in a theatre is what I'm saying, and if that's harsh, it sure as hell isn't the film Tarantino said he was making. When I say I don't think Tarantino will recover, I mean we've never before seen him make a film that didn't take its audience enjoyment into account. He had to know that 80% of audiences (the majority fans of his work) would not truly dig this movie, or at least would be surprised that it didn't offer dialogue that was clever, nevertheless very little boundary-pushing action. I think he's reached a point in his career where he wants to challenge his own obsessions with the films he grew up with. Thing is, nobody understands what they're watching. This is a totally different Tarantino. I consider all of his other works masterpieces or extremely close. This is **1/2 but it's also a wake-up call that Tarantino is in his own little world. Either that, or he was severely rushed with this and gave up. The diner scene is the most rehashed (opening of Res Dogs), unhip and irritating thing he's ever written. It borders on a hack-job. And, no, IT'S NOT AN HOMAGE to poor grindhouse dialogue.

Statesman said...

In summary, I was shocked that Eli Roth's Thanksgiving trailer was the one part of Grindhouse that nailed what it could have potentially been. It was fun, clever, stylishly dated, and kinda freaky. This is what audiences wanted from QT/RR, even the film snobs who are buffing themselves to Death Proof but secretly questioning why it was not that great.

Anonymous said...

I saw this film Saturday. I have to agree that QT's dialogue was an issue. My feeling was that I hoped he was trying to mimic how films of that era are more slow paced and often the audience gets aggitated waiting for the big moment. The payoff I felt was better that anything in Planet Terror. The crashes, and the cinematography of the crashes was spectacular. The punchline of the story was incredible. That's what I loved about Kill Bill. The fighting was great. But the dance the camera did with the fighting was half of how cool it was. Kill Bill 2 suffered from some of the same issues on a smaller scale than Death Proof did. People that I meet that don't like Kill Bill, the reasoning is that it was too slow. Often it includes Volume 1. I got it that he was actually referencing Spagetti Westerns with the speed, and in fact he was moving pretty fast for Leone inspired fare. Many people felt that Pulp Fiction's dialogue was witty and fast paced. They've never seen him beat that in any dialogue he's written since.

The diner scene was a big problem. Shooting a camera angle for seven minutes eliminates the possiblity of editing the thing down much at all. And much of the dialogue in Death Proof is kind of like:
"I went outside to get a shovel." "Well what kind of shovel did you get?" "The kind you bury bodies with." "Why would you want to bury bodies?" "Why wouldn't I want to bury bodies?" "Shovels make me ich." "What, do you have a shovel disease?" etc. etc.

Around and around and around.

Kurt Russell is amazing, the crashes are perfect. The film could have been cut down to 45 minutes. Since the Death Proof DVD has the amazing trailers, I would suggest renting it. Watch the trailers, then if the dialogue gets dull, skip to the good part.

Planet Terror reminded me of Slither. So there was not the since he was dragging out a movie inspired by old film work that few have experienced. This film was like many other films made today. I'm not sure if audiences trust the concept either. Snakes on a Plane was marketed as a movie done bad on purpose too. For body part weapons, I'd rather watch Evil Dead 2.
The style is sort of interesting. But Rodriguez inserts too much humor into it. He makes fun of it. And it is too cliched to have an originality to it. Maybe that's the point. But Tarantino's film is original. They don't mesh together well.

good move, mickey said...

all i can say is that i see why mickey rourke was so adament about leaving Death Proof in a hurry. the way Stuntman Mike's character goes from 200mph to 0 in this film is ridiculous. I don't care if it's grindhouse-esque or not. I feel bad for Kurt Russell. QT & RR might leave this wreckage unscathed, but Kurt Russell gave it his all and QT barely gave him any screentime. I mean how does it feel to be freaking Snake Plissken and get 1/30 the screentime as a stuntwoman. Hah. Jesus. QT really messed up with this one.

Ingus said...

Death Proof was excellent! Kind of like volume 2 of Kill Bill. It was original and interesting and funny and witty and just super-entertaining.

Quentins Gigli said...

I saw this on Sunday and man was I disappointed by it. Comparing Death Proof to Kill Bill Vol. 2 is not accurate in the slightest. There's a difference between a film with long spans of great, witty, colorful dialogue like KB2 and the indulgent, dry, pointless dialogue in the second half of DP. Perhaps that's why one film made $70M in the US and Grindhouse will make 20M tops. In my eyes, Tarantino will have a lot to prove with his next effort. The comparison above to Gigli is correct. This movie has made QT a walking joke to the few mainstream moviegoers who saw it, and boy do those moviegoers like to blog and chatter on MySpace.

Brendon said...

It doesn't really matter if Death Proof has a bad rap online. Online is just the place people were most keen for the film - and they didn't make any significant difference to the figures.

He'll walk again.