As a general rule, low budget horror can always be relied on to draw in a crowd and turn a profit at the box office. It doesn’t matter in the slightest what the critics say, audiences will still turn up in their droves in the hopes that some well-timed jump scares or supernatural shenanigans will leave them watching the movie between the gaps in their fingers.
However, The Empty Man is a recent release that was sent out into the wilderness to die, only to rebound as an almost instant cult favorite. Adapted from the graphic novel of the same name, the plot follows a former cop who stumbles upon a secretive cult trying to summon a supernatural entity, all while he’s on the hunt for a missing girl.
That’s exactly the sort of concept that can draw in a curious crowd, but the production was troubled to put it lightly. Shooting kicked off in South Africa during the first quarter of 2017, and things were going smoothly until the final week of production. Fox’s executive vice president left the studio, and he was The Empty Man‘s biggest supporter behind the scenes, before the Disney takeover presented another sizeable roadblock.
With deadlines looming that could cost the studio a hefty tax rebate, writer and director David Prior was told to put together an assembly cut as soon as possible, which was rushed together and handed over despite low scores among test audiences. It was released in October of last year during the height of the pandemic, earning just over $4 million at the box office.
Disney cared so little about The Empty Man that they forgot to change the 20th Century Fox logo to 20th Century Studios, giving it the distinction of being the final movie bearing the insignia. Somehow, it’s nonetheless managed to gain an underground following, and it can currently be found as one of the most popular titles on HBO Max.