One of the biggest gambles in Quentin Tarantino’s career was “Grindhouse,” his 2007 double feature movie with Robert Rodriguez. The release included films helmed by each director (Tarantino’s “Death Proof” and Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror”) proceeded by mock trailers created by filmmaker friends like Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, and Edgar Wright. “Grindhouse” was a notorious bomb in the U.S. with just a $25 million gross. Tarantino was asked by Empire magazine readers if audiences misunderstood “Grindhouse,” to which the director admitted he overestimated just how many U.S. viewers had a soft spot for grindhouse cinema.
“Well, in America they got ‘Grindhouse.’ In the UK you got ‘Death Proof.’ 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,” Tarantino said. “No, they didn’t. At all. They had no idea what the fuck 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. But as far as the movie playing in England as the movie, I think people took it okay.”
Tarantino participated in a lengthy Empire Q&A to mark the 30th anniversary of the film magazine. While the interview was published last year, Empire finally made the entire Q&A available online for the first time this month. On the subject of “Grindhouse,” Tarantino shared a humorous story about going to see “Death Proof” in England with Edgar Wright as his guest. Unfortunately, there weren’t many other ticket buyers in attendance.
“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,'” Tarantino said. 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 theater and there’s about 13 people in there. On the opening 8:30 show, alright? 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.’”
Tarantino rebounded from the “Grindhouse” bomb with “Inglourious Basterds,” which won Christoph Waltz the Best Actor prize at Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Waltz). Tarantino was nominated Best Original Screenplay. Not a bad way to bounce back. Head over to Empire magazine to read Tarantino’s full Q&A.