You know how we always spend so much time poring over the box office numbers, arguing with friends about how profitable a big movie might be, and scanning the year-end tallies to see which flicks were the most popular? Well here's a funny little flipside: Last February 25, inside of one Texas movie theater, a movie called Zyzzyx Road was released. The flick stars Tom Sizemore, Katherine Heigl and executive producer Leo Grillo.
So what makes this obscure little indie worthy of special mention? How about it made 30 bucks during its entire theatrical run. 30 bucks! That's like 3.5 tickets sold, or maybe 6.5 if that one theater happened to be a discount-rate movie-house. Can this be accurate? It sure looks like Faraci did his research, so I believe it, but ... 6 tickets? Yowch. Obviously this was a direct-to-video piece that had to hit at least one theater to accommodate a few contractual clauses, but jeez, less than 10 tickets sold in 6 days? For the record, Zyzzyx Road was written and directed by John Penney, he of Legend of the Mummy, The Contaminated Man and Return of the Living Dead Part 3, and John probably learned himself a pretty valuable lesson here: No matter how low-budget or Sizemore-laden your movie might be, give it a title that people can actually, y'know, pronounce. I don't hear many people saying "Hey, let's go see that zaxxazisz movie! I bet it's awesome!"
After reading this amusing story I was reminded of another indie flick that did so poorly in a limited release that it actually inspired a few magazine articles: Eric Red's Cohen and Tate (starring Roy Scheider and Adam Baldwin), which was released to 75 theaters in early 1989, only to earn about $64,000 in the process. Needless to say, Cohen and Tate is freakin' Titanic compared to Zyzzyx Road -- but now I kinda wanna see it!