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Horror Movie With A $0 Budget Hits #1 At The Box Office

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Big budget films would dominate at the box office…that is, before COVID-19 shut down most movie production and theatres.

Two filmmakers decided to use the closure to their advantage. Their $0 budget film became the number one movie in America. 

“Unsubscribe” is a 29-minute horror film that topped the U.S. box office last month. 

Never heard of it? That’s because it played for one day, in a 425-seat theatre on Long Island, to a nearly empty audience.

Many saw quarantine as an opportunity to take it easy. Others had something different in mind. 

“Is it possible to get a movie in theaters to potentially make the box office charts?” 

That’s Long Island filmmaker Christian Nilsson. He says with blockbuster films on hold, the pandemic presented the perfect opportunity. 

Nilsson and YouTuber Eric Tabach set out to create the number one movie in the country by “four walling” a theater — that’s when distributors buy out a theater for a fixed fee, and keep all the revenue from ticket sales. 

They bought all the tickets at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center themselves. 

$25,488.

Really anything they would have shown would have been number one at the box office, but they decided to get creative. 

“We thought it would be interesting, because this situation was only possible because of this pandemic, and this big moment that we’re in, we thought we should tell a story that was equally of that moment.” 

“Unsubscribe” was shot in four days, entirely on Zoom, the popular video conferencing app. 

And scary times call for a scary movie. 

Five YouTubers jump on a call for a friend’s birthday to find themselves being hunted by an internet troll. 

Tabach wrote the film, Nilsson directed and edited, and with the help of some well-known actors and YouTube friends, making the film didn’t cost a thing. 

Just, ya know, buying out the whole theatre, did.

The screening of the film was a homecoming for Nilsson.

“I worked at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center all through high school and college, and I thought if there was a chance this would succeed, and any sort of media attention would be gained, I wanted the WHBPAC logo to be right behind us.” 

And they did. “Unsubscribe” joins the Hollywood history books alongside movies like: “Jaws,”  “Independence Day” and “Avengers: Endgame.”

“It was a very special thing for us to do, and I’m excited that it worked out as planned.”

The short era of niche COVID-19 films may be over. As states, including New York now in Phase Four, allow for movie production to resume with safety measures in place.

Many blockbusters that had postponed release during the big summer season between March and November could be on the big screen by the holidays.

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