Quentin Tarantino knows why Grindhouse wasn't a box office success. In 2007, Tarantino teamed with Robert Rodriguez for the epic double feature. However, it was lost on audiences and received mixed reviews from critics upon its release. Speaking in a recently unearthed interview from 2019, Tarantino reflected on the experience and revealed why the movie didn't stand a chance. He had this to say.
"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*** 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."
While audiences didn't know what to make of Planet Terror and Death Proof, the two movies that make up Grindhouse, some critics tore it apart for its humorous take on violence. As it turns out, some critics weren't well-versed in the studies of 1970s exploitation films shown in the now-defunct "grindhouse" theaters either. Obviously, both movies are seen in a much better light now that some time has passed. People have started to finally catch on to what Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez were attempting to do.
Grindhouse was a bomb at the box office, earning just over $25 million domestically from a reported production budget of at least $53 million. Internationally, the movie didn't even hit $500,000. With that being said, it went on to influence throwback movies for the years following and it still remains to be an influence today, thanks to the work that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez put into making their movies.
In addition to releasing Grindhouse as a double feature, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez had friends make some fake trailers to be shown in between the two movies. The trailers were done by the directors, along with Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, and Edgar Wright. The trailers were originally Tarantino's idea. "I didn't even know about it until I read it in the trades. It said something like 'Rodriguez and Tarantino doing a double feature and Tarantino says there's gonna be fake trailers.' And I thought, 'There are?,'" recalled Rodriguez. The director went on to describe how the whole thing came together. Rodriguez explains.
"We had so many ideas for trailers. I made Machete. I shot lobby cards and the poster and cut the trailer and sent it to Quentin, and he just flipped out because it looked so vintage and so real. He started showing it around to Eli Roth and to Edgar Wright, and they said, 'Can we do a trailer? We have an idea for a trailer!' We were like, 'Hey, let them shoot it. If we don't get around to shooting ours, we'll put theirs in the movie. If theirs come out really great, we'll put it in the movie to have some variety.' Then Rob Zombie came up to me in October at the Scream Awards and said, 'I have a trailer: Werewolf Women of the SS.' I said, 'Say no more. Go shoot it. You got me.'"
In 2010, Robert Rodriguez wrote and co-directed a feature-length adaptation of the fake Machete trailer from Planet Terror. As it turns out, it the movie went on to become even bigger than Grindhouse, making over $44 million internationally from a $10 million budget. The director even went on to make a sequel, Machete Kills. While Grindhouse didn't do what it should have done at the box office when it was released, it has gone on to become a cult favorite. You can head over to Empire to read the rest of the Quentin Tarantino} interview.