April 9, 2007 / 4:04 AM / 12 years ago

"Grindhouse" suffers box office horror

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Bad-boy directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez fell victims to a box office bloodbath on Sunday as their ambitious double feature “Grindhouse” bombed during its first weekend of release.

Director Quentin Tarantino at the premiere of "Grindhouse" at the Orpheum theatre in Los Angeles, March 26, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The three-and-a-quarter hour film — actually a package of two movies honoring the low-budget horror movies of the 1970s — opened at No. 4 with three-day ticket sales of just $11.6 million, distributor Dimension Films said. Box office forecasters had expected it to hit the $20 million level.

“Are we disappointed about the gross?” studio co-chairman Harvey Weinstein told Reuters. “I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t. I am disappointed.”

The $53 million project consists of Rodriguez’ zombie thriller “Planet Terror” and Tarantino’s slasher picture “Death Proof,” complemented by ersatz trailers and scratchy prints that give a period feel to the undertaking.

Critics raved but moviegoers were evidently underwhelmed, opting to give the Will Ferrell ice-skating comedy “Blades of Glory” a second weekend at the top with sales of $23 million.

Weinstein said the public is always demanding new moviegoing experiences, “and then it takes a while to educate them.”

“NOBLE ATTEMPT”

“What Robert and Quentin did was a very noble attempt to re-educate American cinema-goers as to what’s good and what was great about seeing those old double bills,” Weinstein said. “They tried and the story’s not written in one week when you do something this bold.”

The movies will be released individually overseas, beginning May 31, and Weinstein said “it’s certainly something we could consider” for North American moviegoers, although there are no current plans for such a reissue.

Dimension is a unit of the Weinstein Co., which Harvey and brother Bob launched in 2005 after they left Miramax Films. The studio has struggled to find its footing at the box office. but the Weinsteins said “Grindhouse” would be a financial success after foreign and DVD sales are included.

“Grindhouse” was one of four new entries vying for the attention of moviegoers over the Easter holiday.

The best of the bunch was the family comedy “Are We Done Yet?” at No. 3 with $15 million. The film, starring pioneering rapper Ice Cube, has earned $19.1 million since opening on Wednesday to get an early start on the holiday.

The Hilary Swank horror movie “The Reaping” opened at No. 5 with $10.1 million for the three days and $12 million since opening on Thursday. Another family comedy, “Firehouse Dog,” failed to ignite, coming in at No. 10 with $4 million, and $5.3 million since Wednesday.

“Blades of Glory” has earned $68.4 million after 10 days. It was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. The animated “Meet the Robinsons” held steady at No. 2 with $17 million, also in its second weekend. The Walt Disney Co. release has earned $52.2 million.

“Are We Done Yet?” was released by Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp. “The Reaping” was released by Warner Bros. Pictures, a unit of Time Warner Inc. “Firehouse Dog” was released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.

Reuters

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