Looking back on the tepid box office response to “Grindhouse,” it’s still a little perplexing that audiences didn’t realize what they would be getting, exactly. During the film’s promotional tour, Tarantino and Rodriguez appeared on virtually every single late-night talk show with the explicit intent of telling the public that they were making an homage to classic ’70s exploitation. Maybe it wasn’t that the vast majority of film fans didn’t understand the concept, maybe they just weren’t digging it that much. In any case, there was a definite chasm between how cool QT and Rodriguez imagined their audience to be, and how uncool they really were. “It meant nothing to them, alright, what we were doing. So that was a case of being a little too cool for school,” Tarantino admitted to Empire.
It certainly wasn’t unrealistic of both filmmakers to believe that they had their finger on the nation’s pulse. Up until that point, they had both enjoyed a tidal wave of success. Ten years after “From Dusk Till Dawn,” in retrospect, it’s apparent that there was a decisive generational gap between adults that came of age during the drive-in era and younger film geeks that were energized by the independent spirit of the ’90s. That proved to be a sizable divide that the “Grindhouse” formula couldn’t cross. In a cruel but reaffirming twist of fate, the biggest miscalculation in two wildly influential careers probably ended up having the largest cultural ripple effect that led the way for a new era of modern exploitation films.