It was just two years ago that James Franco was enjoying critical acclaim and a Golden Globe for “The Disaster Artist”; but the actor and filmmaker’s latest film, “Zeroville,” has resulted in him hitting a new box office low.
While Franco has had plenty of mainstream success with films like “Pineapple Express” and the original “Spider-Man” trilogy, much of his recent filmography has turned to starring in and directing arthouse films that are released by niche distributors on a very small number of screens for less than a month. Aside from “The Disaster Artist,” the five other films directed by Franco, including “Zeroville,” have grossed less than $30,000 and have never had a release wider than 100 screens.
And of these films, “Zeroville” has had the lowest per screen average of any of them. According to data from comScore, Franco’s adaptation of Steve Erickson’s acclaimed 2007 novel opened on 11 screens and grossed only $8,000 for an average of $727. This past weekend, distributor myCinema expanded the film to 80 screens and made $8,897 for an average of just $111.
By comparison, “Child of God,” the drama Franco directed in 2014, had an average of $3,454 from eight screens on its release from Well Go USA. Among films Franco starred in but did not direct, the 2017 FilmRose horror title “The Vault” had an average of $392 from its 11 screen opening, while the previous low average for the first two weekends of any Franco film belonged to the A24 release “The Adderall Diaries,” which had an average of $184 from a 30 screen opening.
Starring Megan Fox, Seth Rogen, Jacki Weaver, Danny McBride and Will Ferrell alongside Franco, “Zeroville” follows an eccentric architecture student named Ike Jerome who has a tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift on his shaved head and who is inspired by Golden Age films to travel to Hollywood. Earning the nickname Vikar, he begins to make a name for himself in the industry as a film editor, only for his life to take a tragic turn.
The movie was filmed in 2014 but was delayed until now as its original distributor, Alchemy, filed for bankruptcy in 2015. It was panned by critics with a 26% Rotten Tomatoes score, with IndieWire critic David Ehrlich calling it, “A compelling reminder to spend more time reading.”