Zyzzyx Road

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Zyzzyx Road
Zyzzyx Road movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Penney
Produced byJohn Penney
Written byJohn Penney
Music byRyan Beveridge
CinematographyDavid Klein
Edited byJoseph Gutowski
Zyzzyx LLC
Distributed byGoDigital Media Group
Release date
  • February 25, 2006 (2006-02-25)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.2 million[1]
Box office$30[1]

Zyzzyx Road (/zəˈzɪzɪks/ zə-ZIZ-iks), also called Zyzzyx Rd., is a 2006 American thriller film written, produced and directed by John Penney and starring Katherine Heigl, Leo Grillo, and Tom Sizemore.

The film gained notoriety from its gross ticket sales of only $30 on its opening run, due to its intentionally-limited release at a single cinema,[1] making it possibly the lowest-grossing film in U.S. history in terms of box office sales.[2]

Plot synopsis[edit]

Grant is a philandering accountant who goes to Las Vegas on a business trip and encounters a seductress named Marissa and her jealous ex-boyfriend, Joey. Grant and Marissa kill and bury Joey along the eponymous "Zzyzx Road", a rural road off of Interstate 15 in California's Mojave Desert. After digging a grave, the two find Joey's body missing from the trunk of Grant's car. Grant chases Joey with a shovel in the desert, and when he finds the man hidden in an abandoned mine, Joey discloses a secret about Marissa.


  • Leo Grillo as Grant, an accountant who begins an affair with Marissa.
  • Katherine Heigl as Marissa, Grant's lover and Joey's ex-girlfriend. John Penney gambled on Heigl's rising success in Grey's Anatomy to boost sales. Thora Birch was initially offered the role, but she turned it down.[1]
  • Tom Sizemore as Joey, Marissa's jealous ex-boyfriend. Grillo "was drawn to his acting chops, and Sizemore's past actually made him more convincing as a tough-guy villain." Several actors turned down the role before Sizemore was cast, including Jason Lee.[1]
  • Yorlin Madera as Truck Driver Bob.
  • Nancy Linari (voice) as Brenda.


Principal photography took place in the summer of 2005 and lasted 18 days, plus an additional two days for pickup scenes. The film was shot entirely on location in the Mojave Desert, in and around local mines.[3] Sizemore and long-time friend Peter Walton, who worked as Sizemore's assistant, were arrested during the film's production for repeatedly failing drug tests while on probation. Police discovered that Walton had a warrant out for his arrest for child pornography distribution and was subsequently jailed. Sizemore was not jailed, making it possible for him to film his scenes.[1]

Release and box office grossing[edit]

Zyzzyx Road was shown once a day, at noon, for six days (February 25 – March 2, 2006) at Highland Park Village Theater in Dallas, Texas,[4] a movie theater rented by the producers for $1,000.[1] The limited release was deliberate: Grillo was uninterested in releasing the film domestically until it underwent foreign distribution, but needed to fulfill the U.S. release obligation required by the Screen Actors Guild for low-budget films[1] (films with budgets less than $2.5 million that are not for the direct-to-video market).[5]

The strategy had the side effect of making the film at the time the lowest-grossing film of all time, earning just $30 at the box office from six patrons.[2] Unofficially, its opening weekend netted $20. The $10 difference is due to Grillo personally refunding two tickets purchased by Sheila Moore, the film's makeup artist, who saw the film with a friend.[1]

The similarly-named Zzyzx has also (mistakenly) been cited as the lowest-grossing film of all time, because of the similar titles and release dates of the films.[6]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD in 23 countries, including Bulgaria, Indonesia, and Portugal. By the end of 2006, the film earned around $368,000.[1] In the summer of 2012, six years after its original release, GoDigital released the film domestically in digital format because of its better performance internationally. In September 2012, the film was released on DVD in North America.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Brunner, Rob (February 16, 2007). "The Strange and Twisted Tale of...The Movie That Grossed $20.00". Entertainment Weekly. pp. 46–49.
  2. ^ a b "Zyzzyx Road (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-01-02.
  3. ^ "Leo Grillo Interview". Katherine Heigl Online. 2006-06-10. Retrieved 2007-01-02.
  4. ^ Strowbridge, C.S. (2006-02-24). "Little Films Hoping to be Big Fish in Limited Release Pond". The Numbers News. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved 2007-01-02.
  5. ^ The New Ishtar, a February 2007 article from Time magazine
  6. ^ Faraci, Devin. (January 10, 2007) Chud.com Crisis on infinite Zyzzyx roads.

External links[edit]