The cast for war story Man Down, in which a U.S. Marine searches for his wife and son after returning from Afghanistan to find his home town destroyed, would seem like it might be enough to raise at least some middling audience interest. Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman and Jai Courtney, lead the cast, and the movie marks the reunion of LaBeouf with director Dito Montiel, who had previously made the critical success A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.
When the film premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in 2015, however, any positive buzz immediately went out the window as critics practically demolished the film. The primary criticism was for its poor handling of the negative effects of war on veterans' mental health, as well as an overall grim tone that just didn't sit well. The film currently holds a 15% "Rotten" rating from critics on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, even while holding a 65% approval rating from audiences.
This negative word-of-mouth, and Lionsgate's awkward plan of giving the film a limited release alongside a VOD debut, led to the film's box office downfall. While the film grossed $454, 490 domestically, a modest amount for an independent film, Man Down sold only one ticket in the UK. That's right, ONE ticket, which amounts to £7, or roughly $8.70 in American currency.
Man Down is certainly not the first film to sell a horrifically small number of tickets at the box office in the UK or the United States. In 2006, an up-and-coming Katherine Heigl starred in a little-known thriller titled Zyzzyx Road, in which an accountant helps a woman (Heigl) kill and bury her jealous ex-boyfriend along the titular road located in the Mojave Desert. If this film doesn't sound familiar, it's because the lead star and the distributors didn't really want anybody to see it.
Leo Grillo, the star of the film, was uninterested in domestic sales and only cared about foreign distribution, convincing producers to rent out only one screen in a small Texas movie theater for $1,000 to fulfill an obligation required by the Screen Actors Guild. This deliberate limited release led to the film's reputation as one of the lowest-grossing films of all time, as it would only earn $30 from six tickets sold. Two of those were bought by the film's makeup artist and her friend, for which she was refunded. Zyzzyx Road was released onto home media internationally shortly afterward and earned nearly $368,000, but still holds its reputation as one of the worst-grossing theatrical releases.
Man Down and Zyzzyx Road sit high up on the list of lowest-grossing movies of all time, but there are others who fared equally poorly.
- Release Year: 2012
- Stars: Noel Clarke, Colin O'Donoghue, Laura Haddock, Amy Pemberton
- Rotten Tomatoes: 42% from Critics, 22% from Audiences
- Box Office: $72
This British sci-fi horror about a group of people trapped in a storage facility with an alien creature was neither a financial nor a critical success, earning mostly negative reviews from critics and audiences, and earning an abysmal $72 in the box office in the U.S., due to only being screened in one theater on one day before being released through video-on-demand. The film did, however, earn $646,103 internationally, faring better than some of the other releases on this list.
Dog Eat Dog
- Release Year: 2008
- Stars: Marlon Moreno, Oscar Borda, Blas Jaramillo, Paulina Rivas
- Rotten Tomatoes: 20% from Critics, 64% from Audiences
- Box Office: $80
This Colombian crime thriller received some international attention around the time of its release due to nominations at multiple festivals, including the Goya Awards for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film and a nomination for World Cinema Grand Jury Prize. However, the film proved to be a massive failure at the box office, grossing only $80 upon release in the U.S.
- Release Year: 2012
- Stars: Christian Slater, Toby Hemingway, Alessandra Torresani, Ambyr Childers
- Rotten Tomatoes: 0% from Critics, 76% from Audiences
- Box Office: $264
Prior to landing his comeback role on Mr. Robot, Christian Slater had a very tough go with roles from 2005-2013. Then he was mostly in low-budget and critically panned pictures, including 2012's Playback, which received zero positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes from critics, and only grossing an appalling $264 against its estimated $7.5 million budget. The low gross can be attributed to only debuting in one theater, in which it earned $252 on its opening night but only $12 the rest of the week, totaling approximately 33 tickets sold.
- Release Year: 2012
- Stars: Michael O'Keefe, Gia Mantegna, Kai Lennox, Fiona Glascott
- Rotten Tomatoes: 0% from Critics, 22% from Audiences
- Box Office: $383
2012 was not a great year for Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing (its genre branch), and Apartment 143 complicated the issue. The Spanish horror film earned an atrocious $383 at the box office in its run and holds a zero percent approval rating from critics.
Do you plan on seeing Man Down? Have you seen any of these other box office flame-outs? Let us know in the comments below!