It’s not often that Variety‘s foreign box office recap moves me to tears, but this week’s column pulverized me as if it were the final chapters of Great Expectations. Be prepared to have your heart ripped from your chest cavity and stomped on like it just insolently requested the services of your shine box:
"With tentpoles dominant, counterprogramming forays such as Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof have struggled. Released as part of Grindhouse Stateside, Death has turned in tepid numbers in Europe, with an international cume around $10 million from 10 markets. In France, it was off 53% in its third frame for a $3.5 million cume; Italian biz in its fourth weekend was mild as it lost more than 100 playdates and brought in just $65,000."
So much for the "they’ll play better and more profitably on their own" theory.
I hate to keep writing about the financial failure of Grindhouse, but I’m exasperated by the way it’s been mis-promoted and resoundingly rejected by viewers regardless of showering habits. Slapped together (with fake trailers and other garish accoutrement) or released separately, I just can’t imagine audiences being turned off by Death Proof and/or Planet Terror en masse. I understand one film playing better than the other based on personal preferences, but discarding the whole shebang just seems… wrong. Given the recent success of 1408, it’s not exactly an opportune time to question the marketing prowess of The Weinstein Company, but since when did the French thumb their already upturned noses at a brilliantly shot pop cultural pastiche that ends with a fucking Serge Gainsbourg song? Go ahead and make an ass out yourself by cracking a Jerry Lewis joke, but have you ever seen The Ladies Man? The bastards were right!!!
We recently learned that the Death Proof theatrical re-release in America was effectively kiboshed by the September DVD release, but some of us were holding out hope. Well, that hope done gone. The year’s saddest box office story just got sadder.