Quentin Tarantino doesn’t have a lot of flops. His movies have an in-built audience and as his features are not pumped out every twelve months they are something of an event. One exception to this is Death Proof.
It was one half of his Grindhouse collaboration with Robert Rodriguez. This was a homage to 1970s exploitation movies often shown as multiple features in old cinemas known as Grindhouse theatre. To simulate these, Death Proof was combined with Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and stitched together with some specially made trailers from directors such as Eli Roth, Rob Zombie and Edgar Wright.
It wasn’t cheap. Some estimates put the cost as high as $70m. The reviews were strong but the box office was weak. A global total of just $26m made the movie a bomb.
Now in an interview with Empire Online he admits it was a lack of judgement. He and Rodriguez put too much value into recreating a cinema experience many modern audiences hadn’t experienced and didn’t care about:
“With Grindhouse, I think me and Robert just felt that people had a little more of a concept of the history of double features and exploitation movies…No, they didn’t. At all. They had no idea what the f–k they were watching. It meant nothing to them, alright, what we were doing. So that was a case of being a little too cool for school.”
He also relayed a slightly tragic experience when he went to watch his own movie in London:
“I’m in London doing press on the film before opening weekend. And I go to Edgar Wright, ‘Hey, let’s you and me and your friends go see it on Friday night in Piccadilly.’ So Nira [Park], his producer, and Joe Cornish and the whole Edgar group, we head into the heart of Piccadilly Circus to go see Death Proof on opening day.
And we walk in the theatre and there’s about 13 people in there. On the opening 8.30 show, alright? [Laughs] That was a rather humbling experience. But we sat down and watched it and had a good time. Edgar was like: ‘That was very impressive. I think I would have turned around and walked out of there. The fact you said, ‘Fuck it,’ and sat down, I admired that.’”
The movie now has a strong cult following and gets revisited by many front time-to-time at home.