1. Location, location, location. There were actual grindhousey rep theatres in the States that wanted to show the film, but the Weinsteins, anticipating giant crowds, chose to program the film mostly in multiplexes that could handle them all. From what I heard about the film it has a lot riding on evoking an environment, simulating an experience. Sticky floors and spooky washrooms might have helped it all go down.
2. People are stupid. Apparently people were actually storming out of screenings and yelling at the managers about the lousy projection of the film. "What's with the missing reels? Why does the film look like shit?" I went to the Mount Scotia theatre on the weekend (but to see Shooter) and there was a big sign on the box office counter explaining to potential Grindhouse audiences that the trailers shown are for movies that don't exist, that there will be two movies in the screening, and that the crap presentation is intentional. (There was no warning for me that Mark Wahlberg was only playing a violent covert assassin in what I was about to see.) The word of mouth must have been a killer - the box office take dropped 50% between Friday and Saturday.
3. The RR/QT thing is played out.
"Right now, the sheer gusto that Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino take in hot-wiring tired clichés and overly familiar archetypes is highly entertaining, if not downright addictive. But even while [their current collaboration] is most exciting, most deliriously kinetic, it is hard to shake the impression that, sooner or later, these filmmakers really should seek inspiration in something other than other people's films." -- Joe Leyton, from a review ofI also read a review that said watching Grindhouse "was like watching really violent paint dry."
GrindhouseFrom Dusk Till Dawn, 1995.
4. People aren't stupid. People like me sat out seeing the film, figuring that after the Weinsteins maximized the profits on Kill Bill by splitting it into two separate releases, they might at some point release each segment of Grindhouse separately (and fully reeled). And after the results of the weekend, that appears to be the plan, rolling out as early as May! Didn't expect to hear this news so soon. Now, which half to see...
Here's a wonderful dissection of the problem with this grindhouse nostalgia trip. Can't put it much better than Grady Hendrix.