Boulevard de la mort is broadcast this evening on Arte, find out why this ambitious project by Quentin Tarantino absolutely did not find its audience when it was released in 2007.
With Death Boulevard then Planet Terror, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rogriguez planned a surprising concept for the spectators, while reviving a disappeared cinematographic tradition. Unfortunately for them, the spectators did not find themselves there. But why ?
Remember that at the start, this project was above all conceived as a cinema session. Both Rodriguez and Tarantino are scheduled to shoot a 60-minute film each, complete with fake trailers in between. The idea being to offer a “Grindhouse” session, reproducing the double programs of the exploitation films dear to the two filmmakers.
The first film is Death Proof (Death Boulevard) by Tarantino, and the second Planet Terror (Planet Terror), signed by Rodriguez. Fake trailers go to Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright, Jason Eisener, and Rodriguez.
So much for the theory. Except that in practice, it does not go as planned. And instead of having a two-hour session with a false intermission, the distributor (the Weinstein Company) ends up with a finished product of more than three hours and budget and schedule overruns.
Executive producer of the film, Harvey Weinstein pre-sold this concept session in the United States, Canada, Great Britain or even Australia and South Africa. The other countries are entitled to two separate films, and none of the “intermission” trailers.
When it was released on American soil on April 6, 2007, the diptych Grindhouse crashed at the box office, with 11.5 million reported during its weekend, where everyone expected 20. It placed 4th in the ranking of that week, behind the comedy with Will Ferrell Les Rois du patin, the Disney animated film Welcome to the Robinson’s and the family film When do we stop? carried by Ice Cube.
From then on, Weinstein reviewed his copy and most countries ended up with the two separate films. In France, Boulevard de la mort was released on June 6, 2007, and Planète Terror on August 14. The first only attracts 627,459 onlookers, where the second gets a (symbolic) slap in the face with only 134,427 entries. Before that, Tarantino had released Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004) solo with 1.46 million admissions and Rodriguez Sin City (2005) with 1.26 million tickets sold.
The Grindhouse diptych therefore remains a regret, which Tarantino explains to the magazine Empire :
I think Robert Rodriguez and I assumed that people felt pretty close to the concept of dual programs and exploitation films. No, they weren’t. Not at all. They had no idea what they were looking at. What we were doing meant nothing to them. In this specific case, we were a little too sure of ourselves.
The filmmaker is still a philosopher and considers the final result very satisfactory:
“I was in London to promote the film before the first weekend of release. I then proposed to Edgar and his friends to go see it on Friday evening in Piccadilly. When we enter the room, there are about 13 people. At the 8:30 p.m. session, the day of release, ok? It was a rather humbling experience. But we sat down, watched the movie and had a great time.”
Check out the alternate casts of Tarantino’s films: