Plans for the international distribution of Grindhouse are being re-evaluated in English-speaking territories following the film's performance in its first few weeks in the US.
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's double-bill, composed of a feature from each director - Tarantino's Death Proof segment and Rodriguez's horror flick Planet Terror - opened April 6 in the US and took $11.5m from 2,624 screens. This was down 54% on the domestic opening of Tarantino's last feature Kill Bill: Vol 2 and down 60% on Rodriguez's 2005 Sin City.
This weekend the film dropped 63% to $4.3m. Much of the blame is being heaped on the film's format and lengthy three hours and 11 minutes running time.
The Weinstein Company (TWC), international distributor to the film, had already intended to release the two separately in non-English speaking regions, but the UK (June 1) and Australia (May 10) were due to see the full double-bill release.
Now TWC president of international distribution Glen Basner says a decision to split Grindhouse's two films is being discussed with UK distribution partner Momentum Pictures and Australian distributor Roadshow. Australia's May 10 release has been changed, while plans for a June release in the UK are being pushed back.
"The overwhelming issue with the US release was the duration of the movie and having people commit to that amount of time to go and see a film," he says. "We'll make the decision whether to split the release into two films [in the UK and Australia] in the next six to eight weeks."
Basner adds that a split release is not about "minimising risk", but about satisfying the international audience. "You would still have to spend p&a twice to release the two separate films," he says.
In European territories where the release is split, Tarantino's Death Proof is mostly being pushed as the first release of the two with Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Turkey set to see Tarantino's feature before Planet Terror, despite his segment appearing second in the double-bill release.
Only Spain, Poland and Hungary have so far planned to release Rodriguez's segment first. This may be because Tarantino is the bigger international name - his three best international hits, Kill Bill: Vol 1, Kill Bill: Vol 2 and Pulp Fiction, grossed $302.7m collectively at the international box office, nearly $100m more than Rodriguez's best international performers Spy Kids, Spy Kids 3D: Game Over and Sin City. And with the likelihood of Tarantino taking Death Proof to Cannes this year, pushing his film first could be a natural lift-off.
Tarantino's international versus domestic performance tends to be stronger than that of Rodriguez. Kill Bill: Vol 1 took 61.3% of its worldwide revenue outside the US while Kill Bill: Vol 2 took 56.5%. Spy Kids only took 23.8% of total revenue internationally while Spy Kids 3D and Sin City took 43.3% and 53.3% respectively.
Basner adds that international promotion will be largely pushed by the directors' names, particularly Tarantino.
He says: "It's a very crowded marketplace this summer. Having someone like Quentin Tarantino go and spend a lot of time in the international market and do a lot of press, will generate response. We're still locking down the dates and building it around his travel schedule and the competitive schedule. But it's not a one-size-fits-all approach."