Photo/IllutrationA scene from “One Cut of the Dead” (Provided by Enbu Seminar)

  • Photo/Illustraion

The low-budget indie zombie movie “One Cut of the Dead” is proving hard to kill at the box office, rising from playing at two theaters in Tokyo to a widespread release, due to its unexpected popularity.

The film, shot on a budget of about 3 million yen ($27,000), raked in an impressive 170 million yen at the box office as of early August.

Directed by a newcomer with uncelebrated actors, the flick hit two Tokyo cinemas on June 23.

It was shown 77 times for five weeks at K’s Cinema in the Shinjuku district, with the 84-seat art theater filled to capacity at every showing.

In response to its immense popularity, the movie started playing at Toho Cinemas Hibiya and other major cinema complexes on Aug. 3. As of Aug. 14, it was being shown or scheduled to be shown at more than 180 cinemas across Japan, according to the movie's official Twitter site.

The work was produced by Enbu Seminar, a film and acting school in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward. The story begins when a team of filmmakers and actors is attacked by a real zombie while they are making a zombie movie.

The movie succeeded in going above and beyond the expectations of audiences. Moviegoers enthusiastically talked about their experiences on social networking websites, generating attention among a wide range of people.

“One Cut of the Dead” is the first feature-length theatrical film for director Shinichiro Ueda, 34. He also wrote the screenplay and edited the film.

“I didn’t think about its performance at the box office,” the director laughed. “I was just driven by feelings, only thinking that I should make ‘something I think is great.’ It had caused a little bit of a stir before its release, so I set a high goal and hoped to attract at least 5,000 people.”

According to Kogyo Tsushinsha, a company that tracks box-office receipts, it drew about 110,000 moviegoers and grossed 170 million yen at the box office through Aug. 5.

The movie has been invited to be screened at many international film festivals including the New York Asian Film Festival and the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy, along with it being theatrically released in South Korea in late August.

It seems that the movie, whose original title is “Kamera wo Tomeruna!” (Don’t stop the camera!), has taken on a life of its own and will remain unstoppable for some time.