My box office gurus are predicting a $20 million opening this weekend (more now with the new midnight sneaks added) for Grindhouse, the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double-feature in a single feature which The Weinstein Co. has a lot riding on in terms of reputation. Not to mention money: I hear the real budget for Grindhouse is at $67.5 mil though Harvey and Bob are spinning it as low $50s. Little wonder that the Weinsteins seem planning to play fast and loose with the box office so the weekend numbers in the 2,624 theaters where the Planet Terror and Death Proof combo, complete with its block of fake movie trailers, is playing will seem bigger. Dimension was spooked by the only so-so tracking that Grindhouse has been receiving. So, a bunch of midnight screenings before Friday’s official release date have been added in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. I also hear there are some 11 pm screenings today which technically shouldn’t be included in the movie’s final weekend take but probably will. (This is a favorite Hollywood trick.) The Weinsteins also put on a massive junket, providing no less than fifteen actors and the two directors. As one participant said, all that was missing were the psychos and zombies. Let’s face it, the Weinsteins’ prowess for media exploitation has been working overtime on this exploitation movie — no doubt to hide the problems of a running time over 3 hours, a release date delayed by half a year, a hard “R” rating. (Plus, younger and hungrier directors in recent years have been pushing the envelope to create wilder and rawer horror pics. Can Tarantino and Rodriguez even compete on their more famous playing field?) And let’s not forget the fact that the Weinsteins are having a more and more difficult time getting the New York City financial community to bankroll them. Not to mention that MGM is frustrated at distributing all those Weinstein Co. bombs.