By and large, 2012 was a good year for the film industry. Movies such as “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” and “The Hunger Games” dominated the box office, with the industry pulling in more than $10.1 billion this year.
Despite the amazing gross receipts some films enjoyed this year, the lowest-grossing movie of the year may shock you with just how little money it made: Christian Slater’s horror flick “Playback” garnered only $264 during its theatrical run, Movieline reported Friday. (However, “The Ghastly Love of Johnny X” may be giving it a run for its lack of money, with Box Office Mojo reporting its receipts at $117 Sunday.)
“Playback” premiered at one theater in mid-March, taking in $252 on its opening night. The rest of the week, the film earned just $12, playing to largely nonexistent audiences. As a result, the theater pulled the movie. The Daily Mail calculated only 33 people saw “Playback” in theaters. Harsh.
In comparison, 26 films released this year each made more than $100 million at domestic box offices.
Sure, Slater has fallen out of favor with most of the American moviegoing public, but does he deserve treatment this harsh?
Perhaps the most surprising thing about “Playback’s” status as the lowest-grossing film of the year? Its budget. The movie was filmed for an estimated $7.5 million, according to IMDB. That’s not a huge sum in Hollywood these days, but it’s a large enough amount of money to prove that at least someone out there thought this thing would be able to pull in more than 33 paying customers.
Producers are currently banking on the film finding a second -- or maybe first -- life in video on demand. “Playback” is available for streaming via Amazon Prime and Netflix Instant. Whether anyone will supply the demand for the video is unknown, but it’s likely that at least one or two drunk college kids will watch “Playback” while bored in the dorms.
Surprisingly, “Playback” isn’t the only film to earn less than $1,000 this year: “Apartment 143,” “Citizen Gangster,” “Death of a Superhero,” and “Nature Calls” are among the movies to each have sub-$700 grosses, according to Box Office Mojo.
All the low-grossing films, distributed by comparatively small companies such as Magnolia Pictures and Tribeca Film, suffered some of the same problems that “Playback” did. The movies were released in one or two theaters each, and when they failed to make much money in their opening days, they were pulled in less than two weeks.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.