Back in 2007, directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez embarked on a most ambitious team-up project. They developed a double-feature film, Grindhouse, that would be a throwback to the sleazy 1970s action and horror pictures. They each directed a film for the experience: Rodriguez made the zombie apocalypse picture Planet Terror while Tarantino crafted the extreme car chase horror movie Death Proof. Both films were shown back-to-back, with campy trailers thrown in between, directed by Edgar Wright, Rob Zombie, and Eli Roth.
The film was an absolute ride to see in the theater but it didn’t exactly attract a huge box office appeal. The project cost $67 million to make and only brought in $25.4 million. How this happened, according to Tarantino in an interview with Empire, was that audiences apparently just didn’t dig on such a retro film:
“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 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.”
Even more eye-opening for Tarantino was the UK release, of which only Death Proof made it to theaters:
“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 [launches into Edgar Wright impression that sounds more like Jason Statham], “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.'”