Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Penney|
|Produced by||John Penney|
|Written by||John Penney|
|Music by||Ryan Beveridge|
|Edited by||Joseph Gutowski|
|Distributed by||GoDigital Media Group|
Zyzzyx Road (// zə-ZIZ-iks), also called Zyzzyx Rd., is a 2006 American thriller film written and directed by John Penney and produced by Leo Grillo. It stars Grillo, Katherine Heigl, and Tom Sizemore. The film involves a philandering accountant who goes to Las Vegas on a business trip, where he encounters the seductive Marissa and her jealous ex-boyfriend. The former pair kill and bury the latter along the eponymous "Zzyzx Road", a rural road off of Interstate 15 in California's Mojave Desert. (The road's name is slightly altered.) Zyzzyx Road is not associated with the similarly-named Zzyzx.
The film has gained notoriety because it is the lowest grossing movie in history, with a domestic gross of $30 USD.
Grant is an accountant with a bad marriage and a beloved daughter. He takes to the road to service his accounts in Las Vegas. While there he meets seductive Marissa. They have a week-long affair which culminates in the arrival of Marissa's ex-boyfriend, Joey. Joey attempts to kill the lovers and Grant and Joey are forced into hand-to-hand combat. Grant gets the upper hand and, in turn, kills Joey. Panicked with a dead body on their hands, Grant and Marissa then drive Joey's body to Zyzzyx Road in the desert, where Grant buries it. The next morning, the body is missing and Grant begins to question reality as strange things are beginning to happen. He begins to believe he is being set up and that something is trying to kill him and Marissa. In the Death of a Salesman-meets-Lolita ending, Zzyzx Road reveals a shocking, tragic twist.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
Release and box office grossing
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, a movie theater rented by the producers for $1,000. 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 (films with budgets less than $2.5 million that are not for the direct-to-video market).
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. Unofficially, its opening weekend netted $20. The $10 difference is due to a personal refund by Grillo to makeup artist Sheila Moore, who had worked on the film, and her friend.
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. In the summer of 2012, six years after its original release, GoDigital released the film domestically in digital format due to its success internationally. In September 2012, the film was released on DVD in North America.
- Brunner, Rob (February 16, 2007). "The Strange and Twisted Tale of...The Movie That Grossed $20.00". Entertainment Weekly. pp. 46–49.
- "Leo Grillo Interview". Katherine Heigl Online. 2006-06-10. Retrieved 2007-01-02.
- 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.
- The New Ishtar, a February 2007 article from Time magazine
- "Zyzzyx Road (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-01-02.
- Faraci, Devin. (January 10, 2007) Chud.com Crisis on infinite Zyzzyx roads.