While the coronavirus pandemic stifled film production in its traditional sense, two filmmakers found a way to make a movie with a zero-dollar budget that became the No. 1 film in America all because they exploited a loophole.
Christian Nilsson and Eric Tabach made a movie, rented out a movie theater, purchased all of the tickets themselves and basked in the success of producing a No. 1 movie at the box office, simply because nothing else was playing.
"I noticed that the box office figures were absurd; $9,000, $15,000 for each movie,” Tabach told the BBC. “Nothing big was coming out. Blockbuster films were on hold. I wanted to find a way to get the biggest number.”
Reminiscent of the 2014 thriller "Unfriended" is “Unsubscribe," the film that took Nilsson and Tabach to the promised land. Nilsson wrote the 30-minute horror flick. which takes place entirely over Zoom. (You might be familiar with the popular video conferencing program that’s grown amid the work-from-home setups that have become normality for many.)
The cast of the Zoom-based film includes Ozark’s Charlie Tahan along with other YouTube personalities in his network.
“Unsubscribe” earned its title as the No. 1 movie in American when Nilsson and Tabach pooled their money together and purchased all of the tickets to their film showings at a movie theater in the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center in Long Island, N.Y. – a common practice called “four-walled distribution” when film distributors buy all of the seats in smaller venues, and in many cases, renting out the place.
For their efforts, Nilsson and Tabach were the only two individuals to actually watch their movie in a theater setting.
By June 10, the two would see “Unsubscribe” rake in a $25,000 daily box office gross which catapulted the title to the top spot, overtaking the likes of “Becky” and “The Wretched,” which were primarily shown in drive-in locations.
The jury is still out on whether the two will have a movie made about their box office exploits but garnering a No. 1 release – albeit short-lived since “Unsubscribe” failed to throw off weekend box office numbers – is a stout accomplishment in itself.
“Unsubscribed” is also available to rent on Vimeo.