The Most Star-Studded Flop You've Never Heard Of is Finally Free to Watch

The Most Star-Studded Flop You've Never Heard Of is Finally Free to Watch
Image credit: RabbitBandini Productions

James Franco's failed movie that turned out to be too ambitious.


  • In 2017, James Franco marked himself as a great filmmaker with the release of The Disaster Artist.
  • However, two years later, his failed movie with global stars was released.
  • This movie is now available for free streaming.

Old Hollywood undoubtedly fascinates many of us, both as a subject of nostalgia for an industry that shaped pop culture, and as a subject of reflection on all the problematic practices and attitudes toward cinema.

Think of Netflix 's Hollywood, a series that presented an idealized image of what cinema could be in the post-World War II era; the Coen Brothers' Hail, Caesar!, on the other hand, focused on satirizing the frivolous Hollywood of the 1950s; and Once Upon a Time.... in Hollywood offered a nostalgic tribute to classic pop culture during the emergence of the American New Wave. And finally, we can mention the recent The Fablemans, which turned out to be a dramatized retrospective of Steven Spielberg 's emergence as a filmmaker.

James Franco also once offered his vision of 20th-century American cinema, and no, we're not talking about The Disaster Artist, about eccentric indie filmmaker Tommy Wiseau. This was Franco's 2019 adaptation of 2007 book, which once wowed critics with its underlying themes and unconventional plot. Except the movie was such a flop that 5 years later, few people remember it and even fewer have seen it. It's an incredibly bad movie that still has a stellar cast — why not check it out, as it's available to stream for free.

Worst Movie of James Franco's Career

Before the public turned its back on James Franco for his sexual misconducts, the actor and filmmaker released the critically and commercially acclaimed The Disaster Artist. Two years later, however, came his movie, which proved to be a perfect contrast. It is Zeroville, based on Steve Erickson's book of the same name.

The story follows an enigmatic man named Vikar (Franco), with a tattoo of Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor on his skull, who arrives in Los Angeles in 1969 just as the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders are taking place in the background. A talented film editor, Vikar quickly finds his way to Paramount Studios, where he observes the birth of the New Hollywood and meets the now famous actors and filmmakers. At the same time, the story focuses on his relationship with actress Soledad Paladin, who died in 1970, and his obsession with the idea of a 'secret film' whose footage is contained in every movie ever made.

In addition to Franco, the film starred his brother Dave Franco, Megan Fox, Seth Rogen, Joey King, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Jacki Weaver, Wim Wenders and Will Ferrell.

Unfortunately, the movie was received coldly, with a 23% critics score and 38% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Zeroville was criticized for having an incomprehensible script, as each character's story was set in different genres that didn't balance each other out.

Still, it's a very ambitious project that will probably be considered cult in 5-10 years. Like the original novel, the film is a satire of Hollywood and the manic obsession with pop culture itself, with fans losing touch with reality. Unfortunately, in the case of Franco's adaptation, these points are toned down, and so those unfamiliar with Erickson's book may find it fundamentally difficult to understand what the movie is about at all.

Where Can You Stream This Movie for Free?

Zeroville is available for streaming on Apple TV+, for example, but it requires a Showtime subscription. But let's face it, few people are going to be excited about paying for a movie that critics and audiences alike have called, quite frankly, awful. And that's why a number of platforms are offering it for free.

You can watch it on an ad-supported on-demand service like Tubi. You can also watch Zeroville for free on Kanopy without any conventions, including commercials.