Next week, on September 18, The Weinstein Company begins their long quest to make their money back on the much-hyped Quentin Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez box office failure “Grindhouse.” Despite being one of the funniest and most exciting cinematic experiences of the year, the 3-hour 11-minute double feature proved to be the most expensive inside joke ever (Christopher Guest’s niche mockumentaries don’t cost nearly that much!), coming in with a reported $67 million budget.
In their first genius move (all sarcasm intended), the Weinsteins opened the uber-violet dark comedy on Easter weekend, where it grossed a paltry $11 million. The focus on box office being what it is, “Grindhouse” was branded a failure in three short days, and was forever doomed in the minds of much of the theater-going public. Eventually it passed the $25 million mark, but just barely.
All this was during the unlikely success story of the equally violent and pretentiously serious “300,” a movie that grossed $210 million. The message was clear:
We Americans take our violence seriously, and we have no sense of humor about it. We want it to be simple, morally righteous and look like a videogame. Satire and irony should not interfere with our bloodlust.
Somebody should have told this to the makers of “Shoot ‘Em Up,” which tallied a paltry $5 million this past opening weekend.Anyway, enough of my bitching at moviegoers who didn’t “get” the brilliance of “Grindhouse,” or were scared away by the prospect of seeing a film where the heroine has a machine gun for a leg. (I don’t know how many times I heard the words “That looks stupid” from people I talked to about the movie. Isn’t that the point?) What I am here to really bitch about is the way the studio has chosen to release the DVDs.
The two halves of the double feature are coming out separately; opposite from the order they appeared in the theatrical “Grindhouse.” Tarantino’s “Death Proof” is first, arriving in a Two-Disc Extended and Unrated version on September 18. Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror” will follow on October 16 in the same format. According to Wikipedia, Best Buy will also release exclusive steelbook copies of both, each containing a bonus disc of unknown features.
Part of the fun of “Grindhouse” was the fact that it paid tribute to the 1970s exploitation film experience by including fake trailers (directed by Rodriguez, Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright and Eli Roth), 70s-style ads (for a “local” Mexican dive restaurant, among others) and vintage concession inserts. The “Death Proof” DVD will contain none of this, and the “Planet Terror” DVD looks like it will contain only the Rodriguez-directed “Machete” trailer.
It really stinks for the viewer that we will be unable to replicate the theater experience at home, although I assume that after they raise enough money from two separate DVDs, they will eventually do a 3 or 4-Disc Super Secret Special Theatrical Cut plus Extended Unrated Cuts version as well. The special features for “Death Proof” seem like they barely justify a second disc at all. Here’s the lineup:
Grindhouse Presents Death Proof – Extended and Unrated (Two-Disc Special Edition) (2007)
*) Never-before-seen footage including the “missing reel” (containing Vanessa Ferlito’s unseen lap-dance sequence) as well as a black-and-white segment in the film’s second act
*) Finding Quentin’s Gals featurette
*) The Guys of Death Proof featurette
*) Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike featurette
*) Introducing Zoe Bell featurette
*) Quentin’s Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke featurette
*** It won’t do any good now, but here’s some links to petitions that are against splitting the movie up:
The Split of GRINDHOUSE petition(UK theatrical)
***And a petition for “Machete” to be made into a full-length feature. (Not sure if this is a good idea)