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Back to the 'Grindhouse'

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Back to the 'Grindhouse'

On paper, it sounds like the polar opposite of a box office sensation -- a three-hour ode to the Z-grade cinema of the 1970s, shot in the style of the time with enough sex and violence to satiate any exploitation junkie. But when the creative masterminds behind such a project turn out to be Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, suddenly, it seems like a Hollywood gold mine.

Indeed, there are perhaps no other filmmakers who could get a movie like Dimension Films' planned April 6 release "Grindhouse" off the ground, which might have something to do with the pair being named ShoWest's Directors of the Year.

"With their uncanny ability to take moviegoers to the very edge of reality, not to mention their seats, and with their unequaled dedication to storytelling, you get a movie experience unlike any other," ShoWest co-managing director Mitch Neuhauser said in a statement. "A Tarantino/Rodriguez production delivers a one-of-a-kind explosion of adrenaline, excitement and magic that may leave you exhausted but oh so satisfied. Their incredible individual and collaborative talents are undeniable."

In "Grindhouse," each director contributed his own feature-length segment to the film -- Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" sees Rose McGowan fend off a plague of zombies with a machine gun leg, while Tarantino's "Death Proof" features Kurt Russell as the homicidal Stuntman Mike, who enjoys running people down with his muscle car, a black Dodge Charger. Connecting the two are fabricated trailers for such upcoming features as "Werewolf Women of the S.S." from guest filmmakers including Eli Roth and Rob Zombie.

Although that kind of content would have most distributors running for the hills, Bob Weinstein's Dimension label has enjoyed tremendous success with Rodriguez in the past on films including 2001's "Spy Kids," 2003's "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" and, most recently, 2005's "Sin City," the director's cutting-edge, black-and-white cinematic adaptation of the ultraviolent Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name.

With a budget of roughly $40 million, "City" went on to earn not only rapturous reviews from a nation of awestruck fanboys but also nearly $75 million at the domestic boxoffice -- enough to spawn a sequel that is planned for a tentative 2008 release.

Similarly, Harvey Weinstein's relationship with Tarantino stretches back to the earliest years of the filmmaker's career, when the former video store clerk burst into the industry spotlight in 1992 with "Reservoir Dogs." Over the past 15 years, Tarantino has remained fiercely loyal to the mercurial Weinstein, and together, the pair has collaborated on films including 1994's landmark "Pulp Fiction," 1997's "Jackie Brown" and 2003's "Kill Bill-Vol. 1" and 2004's "Kill Bill-Vol. 2."

"'Grindhouse' is a tribute to the movies I have loved for decades that have mostly been underappreciated and forgotten," Tarantino said recently in a statement issued regarding the director's grindhouse cinema retrospective at Los Angeles' New Beverly Cinema. The festival, which runs through May 1, will feature such obscure gems as 1974's "Johnny Tough," 1975's Italian entry "Autopsy" and 1976's "Brotherhood of Death" -- all 35mm prints taken from Tarantino's personal collection.

Rosario Dawson knows firsthand about Tarantino and Rodriguez's shared passion for grindhouse movies. The actress starred in "City" and in "Death Proof," and she says it's exciting to work with two filmmakers so consistently committed to pushing cinematic boundaries.

"It was really striking being able to work with (Tarantino)," Dawson told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's the same thing as working with someone like Robert Rodriguez -- these young star directors who have a lot of talent and a lot of stories to tell and a lot of different ways they're capable of telling them."

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Gina McIntyre writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

For more news from The Hollywood Reporter, click here.

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