The headline potential is almost too good to be true: A movie called The Worst Movie EVER! hauls in the worst opening-weekend box office ever, selling exactly one ticket for a total gross of $11. And yet it is true, and it happened to Glenn Berggoetz, a Metro State professor by day and maker of (and actor in) intentionally and extremely stupid movies by night. The Worst Movie EVER! was to be his magnum crapus, if you will. Since then, however, it has become one of the worst box-office success stories ever.
Not that Berggoetz was particularly excited about the abysmal flop when it happened. In August, he thought he scored a sweet deal when the Laemmle Sunset 5 in Los Angeles offered to premiere the movie with a chance for more screenings; the Sunset 5 has a long-running and successful tradition of showing the notoriously awful cult shit-flick The Room on the final weekend of each month, so the idea was, if The Worst Movie EVER! could perform at its premiere, it could take the second-to-last weekend of the month cult-flick slot. "I was just freaking-out happy about it," Berggoetz tells Westword's Jef Otte.
But there were some delays and some miscommunications between Berggoetz and theater manager Greg Laemmle, and the movie ended up getting almost no promotion. "I mean, I'm not some big L.A. guy or anything, but I know a few people in L.A., so I figured I could get at least a few people to show up — but this guy was out of town, this guy was tied up with a shoot, this one couldn't make it. But still, I'm thinking, 'This is L.A. At least a few dozen people will probably just walk in off the street, right?'"
Wrong. Not a single paying customer entered the theater that Friday, and only one came in the next night. "On Monday morning I get an e-mail: 'One person showed up. The film made $11.' I was just staring at the computer screen. I couldn't believe it."
Now, that sad opening weekend is starting to look like a godsend.
"So I'd already been in contact with Box Office Mojo and I'd told them I'd send him the numbers for the box office," he continues. "So I thought, 'Well, this is embarrassing,' but I just sent them the numbers anyway. A few minutes later, I get an e-mail back, like, 'Is this a typo?' No, it's not a typo." As it turns out, Berggoetz did well to suck up his embarrassment, because it wasn't long before the dismal box office numbers started to attract attention: the next day, the trailer for The Worst Movie EVER! — which had been on YouTube for several weeks — spiked up to nearly 800 page views. That same day, he got an e-mail from a reporter at MovieLine, who interviewed him and posted the first in what would be a series of articles. Within hours, the trailer's YouTube views spiked to 3,500.
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The story got picked up in Brazil. It got picked up in Italy. It got picked up in Japan and all around the United States. While the film was doing a one-night run in Virginia that managed to attract twelve people, the film's trailer views were approaching 300,000. "A ton of those hits came from Japan," Berggoetz says. "We got a bunch of comments all in Japanese characters, so I don't really know if they liked it or not."
Does it matter?
Currently, The Worst Movie EVER! is looking into more widespread distribution and has been invited back for its initial second-to-last-weekend offer at the Sunset 5. Berggoetz has also been contacted by a couple of Japanese distributors and one out of Canada seeking to buy the distribution rights.
In the meantime, though, the film, which was shot on location in Denver, Littleton and Longmont, has yet to find someone to screen it in its own home town. "I contacted Landmark," Berggoetz says, "but they haven't gotten back to me yet."