The Most Pathetic Box Office Openings Of All Time

Whether you're talking about a blockbuster director or an indie auteur, every filmmaker wants their movie to be a hit with audiences. After all, it's called show business for a reason. Making movies is about making money, and studios judge success by the size of those box office receipts. So if you want to gauge how much money a film is going to make during its theatrical run, you've got to pay attention to that all-important opening weekend.

How many people show up on those first three days can make or break a movie. Films like Avatar and Infinity War grossed hundreds of millions when they initially hit theaters, but not every film can be Titanic. Sadly, there are some films that absolutely bombed on their very first day in theaters — in some cases, we're talking about films that earned less than $1,000. From tired fright flicks to twisty thrillers, these unlucky films suffered from the most pathetic box office openings of all time.

Amityville was a horror at the box office

While nowhere near as popular as the Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Amityville franchise has been haunting audiences since 1979. So far, there's a grand total of ten films, and while the evil of Amityville can never die, it can certainly lose its box office appeal.

Directed by Franck Khalfoun, Amityville: The Awakening was originally slated for a January 2015 release date, but filmmakers had a devil of a time getting the movie out into the world. After three additional attempts to put this thing in theaters (April 2016, January 2017, and June 2017), the movie was finally released in October 2017, when it premiered on Google Play...for free.

It seems the studio didn't have a lot of faith in their demonic flick, and critics did their best to exorcise the film from people's homes, giving the movie a 28 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe it was the bad reviews, maybe the hardcore Amityville fans had already watched it online, or maybe people were just sick of Amityville movies, but whatever the reason, the film bombed hard when it hit theaters on October 27. The Awakening could only scare up $742 on its opening weekend, and that's all it made period in the United States, leaving audiences to wonder what possessed the filmmakers to make this movie in the first place.

Planetarium bombs despite its stars

As Padme Amidala in the Star Wars prequels and Jane Foster in the first two Thor films, Natalie Portman has starred in some of the highest-grossing movies ever made. Unfortunately, Planetarium (a.k.a. The Summoning) doesn't compare to those big-time blockbusters. Directed and co-written by Rebecca Zlotowski, it finds Portman and Lily-Rose Depp as sisters, performing seances in 1930s France. Eventually, the spiritual duo joins forces with a movie producer (Emmanuel Salinger) who wants to put their powers on display for the world to see, all while World War II looms on the horizon.

But Portman made a mistake signing up for this French period piece, a movie that critics described as a "liquified Chanel ad," "visually sumptuous but a deadly bore," and "a film that looks promising on paper but has no idea how to put its ingredients together." After premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016, the movie was silently dropped into one lonely theater, where it earned a shabby $625 on its opening weekend. Planetarium would eventually earn a whopping total of $3,262, making the film a real black eye in the Black Swan's filmography.

Box office results that cut bone deep

On paper, Marrowbone sounds like a winner. It's a horror movie starring Anya Taylor-Joy of Split and Charlie Heaton of Stranger Things. (There's a combo that could never go wrong, especially twice, right?) On top of all that, the movie was written and directed by Sergio G. Sanchez, the screenwriter of The Orphanage, one of the scariest movies ever made. The plot follows an English family who moves to America to escape their criminal father. Unfortunately, after arriving in the USA, the mother dies, and the desperate children are forced to conceal her death (so the government won't break them apart) and face an evil entity living in their new home.

But despite its creepy credentials, horror fans weren't too interested in this Spanish thriller, and only a handful bothered buying tickets. When the movie opened in April 2018, it only managed to make $624. By the time Marrowbone was done frightening the few people who'd shown up, it had earned a mere $1,377. Granted the movie did a little better overseas, but by "a little better," we're talking $11.7 million. That means Marrowbone was beaten out by other less-than-impressive horror films like Winchester and Slender Man. Maybe bad reviews kept audiences at bay, perhaps horror fans were flocking to A Quiet Place instead, or maybe the movie failed because Universal released the film in just seven U.S. theaters. Whatever the reason, it's safe to say the movie's box office results cut the filmmakers to the bone.

Kevin Spacey keeps audiences away

After being accused of sexual harassment by multiple victims, Kevin Spacey was kicked off several projects and driven out of the movie business. But while Spacey won't be starring in any big-time productions anytime soon, what do you do with the films he finished before his scandal? Well, you could go the All the Money in the World route and replace him with Christopher Plummer. Or you could move forward and release the movie anyway, which is what Vertical Entertainment did with Billionaire Boys Club in August 2018.

As you can probably guess, this boys club did not make a billion dollars.

Co-starring Ansel Elgort and Taron Egerton, Billionaire Boys Club is based on a true story about a group of rich kids whose Ponzi scheme quickly devolves into murder. But even though Elgort and Egerton are exciting young stars, Spacey destroyed any chance of the movie's success. There was barely any advertising for the film, it only played in 11 theaters, and it earned a shockingly awful $126 on its opening day. Over the course of its opening weekend, the film picked up a total of $618, and while it did a bit better on VOD, Billionaire Boys Club definitively proved that Spacey has become box office poison.

Even The Doctor couldn't save this rom-com

After his tearful departure from Doctor Who, David Tennant swapped his sonic screwdriver for a sloppy screenplay, landing the male lead in The Decoy Bride, a British rom-com starring Kelly Macdonald and Alice Eve. The story involves a novelist (Tennant) and movie star (Eve) who plan on getting married. Hoping to escape the paparazzi, they flee to a Scottish island and hire a local girl (Macdonald) to play a "decoy bride" in a fake wedding meant to throw off the media.

Since this is a rom-com, Tennant and Macdonald naturally fall in love, and all sorts of hijinks ensue. Unfortunately, none of those hijinks are particularly hilarious, with one critic describing the film as "pernicious tripe suitable only for masochists and the intellectually disabled." That's a pretty harsh critique, but evidently, audiences agreed and stayed far away. Tennant's star power failed to lure his Doctor Who fan base into theaters, and the rom-com only earned $542 on its opening weekend. In total, the movie made a mere $759 in the U.S., and while Tennant would go on to bigger and better things, we're pretty sure he'd like to travel back in time and undo this massive mistake.

An Oscar-winner loses gold at the box office

The year 2007 was kind of a weird one for Forest Whitaker. In February, he won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the crazed Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Then, just a month later, Whitaker appeared in The Marsh, a spooky horror story that played at a horror film festival in 2006 but slid into theaters after Whitaker had claimed his little gold trophy. Co-starring Gabrielle Anwar as a writer living in a haunted mansion, The Marsh found Whitaker playing a paranormal expert trying to capture some creepy ghosts on-camera. But despite his strong performance, the movie couldn't get horror fans into theaters. When it opened in March 2007, it earned a measly $336. Of course, as Whitaker has since gone on to star in some of the highest-grossing movies ever made — Black Panther and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — we don't think The Marsh did much to bog down his career.

This Samuel L. Jackson movie meets an evil fate

Samuel L. Jackson is a man who likes to keep busy. For example, in 2012, he appeared in five feature films, including The Avengers and Django Unchained. Of course, when you're making that many movies, you're going to have a couple of flops mixed in with your blockbusters.

For example, Jackson played a serial killer in Meeting Evil, a horror film where Jackson wears a snazzy hat, whistles "Dixie," and butchers a whole lot of people. And the whole time, he's taunting and tormenting poor Luke Wilson, threatening to kill the man's family while explaining how the two aren't so very different (a tired cliche that needs to die).

But while Jackson excels at playing intense characters, audiences weren't in the mood to see him bullying the lesser Wilson brother. The slasher flick earned $181 during its opening weekend, and by the time it finished its run, Meeting Evil had only grossed $525. It probably didn't help matters that reviews were awful and that the film had already been released on VOD, but after audiences saw Jackson work with Joss Whedon and Quentin Tarantino, everybody forgot about Meeting Evil's miserable end.

Tye Sheridan's career takes a detour

Tye Sheridan started off his career strong with critically acclaimed films like The Tree of Life, and these days, he's starring in Hollywood blockbusters, a la Ready Player One and X-Men: Apocalypse. But in between those critical darlings and the money-making spectacles, Sheridan played in a little thriller called Detour, a movie that had Tarantino vibes but none of those sweet Tarantino box office returns.

Directed by Christopher Smith, Detour tells the tale of a law student (Sheridan) who goes on a road trip to Vegas with a psycho (Emory Cohen) and the psycho's stripper girlfriend (Bel Powley). Only they aren't going for the slot machines — they're going to kill Sheridan's stepdad. While the film did okayish, critically speaking, most moviegoers completely missed out — the movie only made $145 on opening weekend before bowing with a total of $1,788. That's quite a far cry from $41 million opening weekend of Ready Player One, which proves that up-and-coming actors should never give up, even if their career takes a momentary detour.

The alien flick that nobody saw

When 47 Meters Down swam into movie theaters, director Johannes Roberts was probably pretty pleased with himself. After all, he had a big hit on his hands — this underwater thriller earned $11 million on its opening weekend against a $5.5 million production budget. Eventually, it would gross an impressive $44 million, which is a nice improvement over Roberts' earlier monster movie: Storage 24.

Written, produced, and starring Noel Clarke of Doctor Who fame, Storage 24 is a British thriller that finds five young people stuck in a storage facility. Normally, that would be just a minor inconvenience, but unfortunately for our heroes, there's a flesh-eating extraterrestrial trapped in there with them. Sadly, the box office results were far scarier than the film. Sure, it earned about $690,000 overseas (which ain't great), but in the US, it grossed a mere $72 on its opening weekend... and that's it. In other words, Johannes Roberts probably feels really grateful for the existence of great white sharks.

The Zyzzyx Road not taken

Zyzzyx Road is the anti-Avatar. Where the James Cameron space epic grossed $2.7 billion, Zyzzyx has been hailed as the lowest-grossing film of all time. So how did this movie make so little money? Well, believe it or not, it was actually intentional.

Zyzzyx Road was the brainchild of writer-director John Penney and actor Leo Grillo. The plan was to make a thriller about an accountant who winds up in Las Vegas and gets involved with a sexy blonde and her jealous ex. Once cameras stopped rolling, the filmmakers would sell the film internationally, but before they could take Zyzzyx overseas, they wanted to give the film an obscure debut in the US.

But this wasn't about drawing a crowd. Instead, it was about saving money. If the film had a theatrical run in America, the filmmakers would be legally allowed to pay their actors less before selling the film rights in other countries. (Those actors, by the way, included Tom Sizemore of Saving Private Ryan and Katherine Heigl, of Knocked Up and Grey's Anatomy fame.)

Thinking his plan was foolproof, Grillo played the film for one week in a Dallas theater, sans any advertisement. According to Entertainment Weekly, only six people saw it, and the movie made just $20 on its opening weekend. It would go on to gross an additional $10, which Grillo refunded when he learned that two of the patrons were Zyzzyx Road's makeup artist and her friend.

But while the lousy debut was intentional, things got out of control once the internet discovered Zyzzyx Road's existence. Soon, everyone was talking about the movie's horrendous box office results, and even though the filmmakers didn't plan for its Dallas run to make any money, the movie's reputation was suddenly ruined. But hey, at least this sweaty little thriller managed to set some sort of record, even if it was a record that nobody would ever want.