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Quentin Tarantino suffered 'shock to my confidence' after Death Proof flop

16 years on, it's still an under-appreciated gem.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 02: Quentin Tarantino speaks at Secret Network panel discussion during NFT.NYC at Neuehouse on November 02, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
Quentin Tarantino in New York City. (Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Quentin Tarantino was left slightly shaken by Death Proof's tepid reception back in 2007.

Released in the Grindhouse double feature alongside director Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror, this black-comedy thriller plonked Kurt Russell in the crazed boots of Stuntman Mike, who butchers young women with his modified cars.

At the box office, it profited just $1.1 million.

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"I have been lucky enough to write stories that have connected with many people, and this has allowed me to practise my art without restrictions that most filmmakers have," Tarantino told Spanish outlet Diari ARA.

ROSE MCGOWAN, KURT RUSSELL, DEATH PROOF, 2007
Kurt Russell's psychotic Stuntman Mike sizes up Rose McGowan's Pam in Death Proof. (Dimension Films)

"Now, a funny thing happened: for a while I was getting a lot of project proposals, until the studios ended up assuming that I do my stories and it wasn't worth the effort. But after Death Proof, which didn't do well at the box office and was a bit of a shock to my confidence, I started getting proposals again," the filmmaker further recalled.

"They must have thought, 'Perhaps now he's touched and his temper has gone down, now is the time.'"

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Following the financial disappointment that was Death Proof, two years later, Tarantino gave us the history-meddling Inglourious Basterds, which centred on a band of Jewish American mercenaries behind enemy lines during World War II and a French Jewish cinema owner hellbent on revenge against the Nazis.

Not only did actor Christoph Waltz announce himself to the world as the cunning SS colonel Hans Landa in the movie - deservedly winning an Oscar for his efforts - Inglourious Basterds also returned its iconic director to box office success with a $321.5m haul from a $70m budget.

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