Trivia

Hard

The Lowest Box Office Grossing Film In U.S. History Is?

John Carter
Zyzzyx Road
The 13th Warrior
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Answer: Zyzzyx Road

Typically when you hear about poor box office returns for movie releases, the conversation goes something like “Well, Film X had a budget of 300 million but only made 145 million at the box office,” with much conversation focused on why exactly that was.

In the case of the 2006 release Zyzzyx Road (starring Leo Grillo, Katherine Heigl, and Tom Sizemore), however, there were no millions bandied about when talking about box office sales. The film cost 1.2 million dollars to produce but netted only a total of $30 in box office sales.

How could a film gross that little money at the domestic box office? To understand how a film could pull down sales worth about as much as an oil change, you have to understand the circumstances of its release. Per the regulations of the Screen Actors Guild, any movie that qualifies as low budget (with a budget below 2.5 million dollars) that is not a direct-to-video release needs to be released domestically in some capacity before moving on to a foreign market. John Penney (the film’s director) and Leo Grillo (a producer for the movie in addition to starring in it) both thought the film would do much better in foreign markets, so in order to meet the obligations to the SAG, they rented a movie theater in Dallas, Texas and showed the film once a day at noon for six consecutive days. As a result a mere six people saw the film for a total box office gross of $30.

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