Early estimates put the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature Grindhouse at around $14 million for it’s opening weekend, far below the $20-$25 million predictions. Last year it was one of the most hyped movies on the internet. It’s a great movie. A cinematic experience. The best reviewed wide release of 2007 thus far. So why did Grindhouse fail?
So it came to my surprise that the film is showing only three times daily at some theaters. Sure, the double feature is over three hours long, and that limits the turnover of that screen. I also noticed that the new film is only being given one screen in a couple theaters in San Francisco (and most other cities). As opposed to a super summer release like Spider-Man, which in some theaters will own 7-8 screens per theater for its opening weekend. The film was originally scheduled for a nationwide midnight release but a week before opening that was downgraded to only 13 cities (13 theaters?).
We live in an age where movie studios can buy the number one spot opening weekend. It’s easy. You just need to put your movie on 3,500 screens. Grindhouse supposedly opened on 2,500 screens, which is not great for a big release (especially considering the film’s screen turn around time). To give you another example, Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator (a slightly shorter movie, with a slightly faster screen turn) made only $7.5 million when it expanded into 2,500 screens.