EXCLUSIVE: ITN has dated its grindhouse indie Danny Trejo’s Vengeance to arrive on August 28, deliberately opening two weeks ahead of star Danny Trejo‘s other actioner, Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills. Filmmaker Gil Medina hasn’t made a ton of friends with his bold strategy of piggybacking off of P&A for the Open Road-released Machete sequel, which ITN hopes will boost interest in their rival Trejo pic. Unorthodox Medina’s gone directly to smaller exhibitors around the country offering highly desirable splits ranging from 50/50 to 80/20 in select markets. So far he’s struck deals or is in talks to book with chains including Cinemark, Carmike, Harkins, and Megaplex Theatres to run his film ahead of Machete Kills, whose distributor Open Road is owned by top chains AMC and Regal. “I’ve been told that these chains do not care to do any favors for Open Road,” Medina told me. Utah-based Megaplex Theatres even booked the bloody revenge pic, which was shot in-state, despite its relatively conservative market.
The Vengeance plan has caused some annoyance for Open Road, which is aware of the calculated parallels between the two films’ campaigns. (See posters above left and at right.) Their Machete Kills, set for wide release on September 13, co-stars Michelle Rodriguez, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Jessica Alba, Lady Gaga, and more celebs in a sequel that sees blade-wielding hero Machete recruited by the President to stop a madman. Vengeance, written, directed, and exec produced by Medina, features Trejo as an ex-vice cop turned vigilante seeking revenge for the murders of his wife and daughter and co-stars 50 Cent, Jason Mewes, and Donal Logue. “I’ve heard Machete Kills might move its date,” Medina told Deadline. “If they move, we’re moving with them.” (A rep for Open Road says there are no current plans to reshuffle their date.)
The awkwardness between Vengeance and Machete Kills has been brewing for months. In November Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak dropped his endorsement of ITN’s Danny Trejo’s Vengeance: Woz With A Coz app game after Rodriguez’ rep Gloria Hinojosa allegedly got Wozniak to sever his ties to the project. Medina & Co. sued Rodriguez for $11M in January for bullying Wozniak away from the game. That court case is still ongoing. Ironically, Medina credits Rodriguez as setting the DIY example for him. “I’m just trying to be independent just like Robert Rodriguez was,” he said. “I’m following his book!”
Here’s the new trailer for Danny Trejo’s Vengeance: