Some are flops at the box-office, some disasters and some films make money not even enough to….well…buy peanuts! Here are 10 of the lowest grossing films of all time! (Don’t blame yourself if you haven’t heard of any)
10. SATANIC – $252
Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland plays one member of a group of college pals taking a tour of locations around Los Angeles where occult activity was known to have occurred. After following the spooky owner of an occult store to his home, they save a young woman from what appears to be a planned human sacrifice. She turns out to be something other than an innocent victim, though, and the friends quickly find their lives in grave danger.
Satanic opened on July 1, 2016 in three theaters, where it earned $205 for the weekend. It made an additional $47 the rest of the week for a grand total of $252. All this despite billing itself as “from the producer of The Walking Dead.” Then again, it has a 0% at Rotten Tomatoes, so even a connection to that hit show apparently couldn’t entice people to pay full ticket price to see it.
9. PRETTY VILLAGE, PRETTY FLAME – $211
The Serbian film Pretty Village, Pretty Flame was a massive hit in its native land, reportedly breaking box office records. It was also entered into the foreign-language category for the Academy Awards, although it failed to get a nomination. A dark comedy set during wartime, the movie follows two childhood acquaintances — one Muslim, the other a Serb — who grow up and find themselves on opposite sides of the Bosnian civil war.
Opening on January 16, 1996, Pretty Village, Pretty Flame had stiff competition for the attention of adults looking for mature, artistic entertainment. Amistad, The Boxer, and Martin Scorsese’s Kundun were all in theaters at the same time. Consequently, this one slipped in and out of cinemas with just $211.
8. MUMMY, I’M A ZOMBIE – $120
If you’ve never heard of Mummy, I’m a Zombie, don’t feel bad. It’s a Spanish-language animated film, and it’s not even the good kind of animation. No, this is one of those cheap-o animated features — less Zootopia and more Norm of the North. (See above photo.) The story follows young heroine/zombie Dixie as she attempts to prevent a brewing battle between the undead and the living who fear them.
Animated movies tend to do pretty well in the U.S. and Canada. Good ones frequently rank among the highest-grossing pictures of any given year. Even bad ones can usually eek out at least a semi-decent opening weekend, if nothing else. Perhaps because it was in Spanish — not to mention the fact that it was a sequel to a film no one in this country had seen — Mummy, I’m a Zombie wasn’t able to lure in those all-important family audiences. It should probably come as no surprise, then, that its total North American gross was only $120.
7. THE OBJECTIVE – $95
Remember Daniel Myrick? If you can’t quite place the name, he was, along with Eduardo Sanchez, the director of the influential phenomenon The Blair Witch Project. Despite that movie becoming the surprise blockbuster of 1999, both Myrick and Sanchez were unable to parlay the success into bigger and better gigs. Both continued to make movies; they just continued making them on low budgets way outside the mainstream. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Except that none of their efforts came even remotely close to replicating Blair Witch‘s success. That film, produced for $60,000, earned $140 million in North America at the time. By contrast, Myrick’s The Objective — about a Special Ops team that discovers a Bermuda Triangle-type dimension in Afghanistan — garnered a grand total of just $95.
6. DOG EAT DOG – $80
There have been several movies called Dog Eat Dog over the years. One of them is a 2008 Colombian crime drama about a low-level street thug who unwisely tries to rip off the agoraphobic crime boss monitoring street action via the many telescopes in his apartment.
Dog Eat Dog played at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and was submitted for Academy Award Consideration in the Foreign-Language category. It even managed to get picked up by IFC Films, a distributor known for releasing hip, artsy, and edgy fare. But IFC keeps theatrical play at a minimum for many of their pictures, often showing them exclusively in their NYC-owned theater, the IFC Center. This overall lack of availability is probably to blame for the meager $80 take Dog Eat Dog accumulated.
5. PARANOID GIRLS – $78
Paranoid Girls is a Spanish comedy about three female friends who enter the world of fashion, hoping to make a quick buck. They quickly become caught up in the glitz and glamour of it all. However, they also discover that there’s a real dark side, including drugs and sleazy people willing to take advantage of the innocent. It opened domestically in November 2015, and went on to earn a mere $78. There’s a clear reason why Paranoid Girls made so little, however. Its release was…kind of a non-release.
The director, Pedro del Santo, wanted his film to be considered for the Oscars, but Spain had already chosen to officially enter another picture. To be considered anyway, it needed to play for at least one week in one Los Angeles theater. He reached an agreement to have the Laemmle Theater’s Noho 7 show it daily, while he absorbed all costs for the print, poster, and similar items. Laemmle, meanwhile, invited critics and Academy voters to come and see the film. In other words, it was never really targeted at general paying audiences, although they were welcome to buy a ticket. The one-week qualifying run didn’t end up working, as Paranoid Girls failed to land its desired nomination.
4. CONFESSION OF A CHILD OF THE CENTURY – $74
Pete Doherty is famous for a couple of things. He was the lead singer of two popular British bands, the Libertines and Babyshambles. He had a well-publicized drug problem that eventually landed him in jail. He was a good friend to Amy Winehouse and a former boyfriend of model Kate Moss. You might have known some of this. What may be new information to you is that Doherty also tried his hand at acting, co-starring with Charlotte Gainsbourg in Confession of a Child of the Century.
Set in 1830 Paris, the plot follows a deeply depressed man named Octave who falls in love with a widow ten years older than he is, and he has to learn to trust that he can find happiness. The movie had the honor of competing in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival. And while Doherty has some name recognition here, he’s not exactly a Bono or a Mick Jagger. Consequently, Confession of a Child of the Century snuck out of theaters with just $74 in the till.
3. STORAGE 24 – $72
Storage 24 is a low-budget British horror film about a couple who find themselves trapped inside a London storage facility with an extraterrestrial creature that’s none too friendly. It was written by its star, Noel Clarke, known to many for his role as Mickey Smith on Doctor Who. The movie did respectably in several countries, including its native UK and Turkey.
As you can imagine, the British press was very interested in how it would fare with American audiences. A number of media outlets there covered the fact that Storage 24 earned a stunningly low $72 in the U.S. According to The Guardian, Magnolia Pictures — the studio holding North American rights to the movie — had a contractual obligation to play it theatrically in order to take advantage of a TV deal. So they did the absolute bare minimum, showing it in exactly one theater for only one day. When we do the math, it means that about eight people showed up to see Storage 24 on that day.
2. PET – $70
Believe it or not, the second lowest-grossing movie ever came out just last year. Pet is a thriller about an Animal Control Department worker named Seth (played by Lost star Dominic Monaghan) who becomes obsessed with a young woman he sees on a bus, eventually taking her hostage and keeping her locked inside of a cage. What follows is a strange plot twist (which we won’t spoil here) that leads to a series of mind games the two characters play with each other.
Like many of the films we’ve discussed, Pet was relegated to one theater for its release. Pet ended up with a grand total of $70, $63 of which came from its opening weekend. For what it’s worth, three other films made even less that weekend, including Hubble 3D, which made $13. Hey, a massive box office bomb has to find comfort where it can, right?
1. ZYZZYX ROAD – $30
Remember at the top of this list when we said you might have more money in your wallet than some of these movies made at the box office? We weren’t kidding. The lowest-grossing film in history is a 2006 thriller called Zyzzyx Road. It stars Katherine Heigl as a young sexpot who teams up with an accountant (Leo Grillo) to murder her ex-boyfriend (Tom Sizemore) and dispose of his body. And what’s the record-setting gross? Just $30. Nope, that’s not a typo.
How does a movie make so little? In this case, the theatrical run was intended to fulfill a Screen Actors Guild requirement allowing actors to be paid less than the usual SAG minimum, provided the low-budget film in question gets a release in theaters. The producers were trying to meet that requirement silently, with the intention of launching a full-fledged release later on. They engaged in a process called “four-walling” — literally renting out a theater to play a movie. The Dallas, Texas cinema they rented showed Zyzzyx Road daily at noon for a week. Six people attended, one of whom was a make-up artist who worked on the film.