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Unsubscribe: How two men used ‘absurd loophole’ to score number one movie in the US

The Independent logo The Independent 18/06/2020 Clémence Michallon
a large red chair in a room © Provided by The Independent

Two men managed to score the number one film in the US by using an “absurd loophole” stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Christian Nilsson, a director, video journalist, and producer based in New York City, and Eric Tabach, a YouTuber, partnered for the project.

Nilsson explained on Facebook that he and Tabach were first inspired after cinemas across the US shut down due to the pandemic.

“We joked any film put in a theatre would instantly top the box office,” he wrote.

“Realising the unique situation presented a loophole, we hatched a plan…”

The two wrote a short horror film titled Unsubscribe and shot it on Zoom within a week, according to Nilsson.

Then, Nilsson and Tabach bought out a cinema in Westhampton Beach, New York, where they screened their film with no audience present.

“Our movie is 30 minutes long, so if we rent the theatre for two and a half hours we can play it five times,” Tabach explains in a behind-the-scenes video shared on his YouTube channel.

“If we sell each ticket for $12, there’s 425 in the theatre, that equals $25,500. So if no movie makes more than that on that specific day, we become the number one movie in America.”

He said they had chosen to cap the number of screenings because they had to actually purchase the tickets to make the operation “legitimate”.

A behind-the-scenes video shared by Tabach shows the two men attending their “premiere” dressed in tuxedos and enjoying popcorn.

Figures published by Box Office Mojo show that Unsubscribe was the top film in the US on 10 June, having brought in $25,488 – meaning Nilsson and Tabach’s plan was successful.

”We saw an absurd loophole in the system that at any other time would be impossible to exploit and thought it would be funny,” Nilsson told Patch.

“Last year, the number one film at this time was The Secret Life of Pets 2. This year, it was a $0 budget horror film made over Zoom.”

Unsubscribe was number three for the week spanning 5 June to 11 June, also according to Box Office Mojo.

The film is now available to rent on video-on-demand.

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