Unsubscribe: The $0-budget movie that ‘topped the US box office’

Lightning sort of strikes. Because, you know, it can. (And it can strike for you too.) Read on.


by Joshua Nevett

In normal times, blockbuster movies usually dominate the box office charts.

The big-budget productions, directed by the likes of James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott, regularly draw the biggest crowds at cinemas across the US and beyond.

But on 10 June, one box office-topping movie was watched by just two people, in one cinema.

Unsubscribe, a 29-minute horror movie shot entirely on video-conferencing app Zoom, generated $25,488 (£20,510) in ticket sales on that day.

Nationwide, the movie hit the top of the charts, according to reputable revenue tacker Box Office Mojo.

The budget of the movie: a flat $0. How was that possible?

The movie was the brainchild of Eric Tabach, an actor and YouTuber from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and filmmaker Christian Nilsson, from New York City.

When the coronavirus pandemic shuttered movie theatres in March, the pair saw an opportunity in the crisis.

Given no big films were being released in cinemas, they wondered if they could hit the top of the charts if they made their own movie, DIY style.

“I noticed that the box office figures were absurd; $9,000, $15,000 for each movie. Nothing big was coming out. Blockbuster films were on hold. I wanted to find a way to get the biggest number,” Mr Tabach told the BBC.

A cunning plan, befitting of the silver screen itself, was devised.

To reach the top of the box office, Mr Tabach and Mr Nilsson realised they had to game the system. They did so by exploiting a loophole in cinema ticket sales, known as four-walling.

“Four-walling is when distributors rent out a movie theatre and buy all the seats,” Mr Tabach, who used to work at BuzzFeed making viral videos, explained….

Read it all at bbc.com