The reporting of box office grosses on independent films is a tricky bit of business these days. Since studios (and, to some extent, moviegoers) have decided that giant, mega-budgeted, preferably superhero-centered extravaganzas are the only movies that are worth the trouble and expense of actually going to theaters, indies generate most of their revenue via home viewing – with on-demand and disc rentals and sales, for which a small theatrical run is basically advertising for the more lucrative in-home revenue streams. In other words, a movie will play only a few theaters, briefly, to generate reviews and awareness and/or fulfill its actors’ contractual obligations, and will later just look like a blip on their CV.
But with all that in mind, it’s still sort of shocking that Shia LaBeouf’s latest movie made roughly eight dollars in U.K. cinemas last weekend.
The Guardian reports that Man Down, LaBeouf’s reunion with A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints director Dito Montiel, grossed exactly £7 during its single-theater engagement. Again, this was a courtesy run – one screen, concurrent with its on-demand release, one month before hitting disc there. But still, for a film with a recognizable star, known director, and a supporting cast that includes Gary Oldman, Kate Mara, and Clifton Collins Jr., it’s a reallllllly small gross, $8.73 in American dollars (based on the current exchange rate). And that reception is even more unfortunate when considering, as The Guardian did in a gleeful follow-up report, that a single British movie ticket averages higher than £7. So somehow, less than one person saw it in that theater.
And yet, LaBeouf’s Transfomers movies grossed literally $2.6 billion dollars, and it’s impossible that Man Down was worse than those, so easy come, easy go.