In David Foster Wallace's infamous 1996 novel Infinite Jest, the deceased father of the main protagonist, James Incandenza is an avant garde film director, in addition to being a tennis coach and nuclear physicist. The book includes a discography of his works, which includes several dozen films, including The American Century as seen through a Brick and Blood Sister: One tough nun. One of the most avant garde of all of the late directors films is "the Joke".

The joke only ran at two or three different venues, all extremly artisitc movie houses, and in each venue it ran only once. This was due to the audiences unfavorable reaction to the show.

The show consisted of realtime video footage from various cameras around the theatre, showing the audience exactly what the audience was doing at that moment. At first, members of the audience thought that perhaps this was just a slight intro to the real movie, but soon realized that the film consisted of nothing but watching their own reactions to their own reactions, and on as such. This quickly related in magnifying their own annoyance, which is why the "film" was not too succesful.

This film fits in well with the theme of the book, which is, amongst other things, the eventual utter futility of self-reflective and self-referential thought.

In the movie End of Evangelion, released in Japan in 1998 there is actually a very important scene that shows first a crowded theatre and then an empty theatre to the audience. And while this was not an actual shot of the actual audience watching the film, I wonder if Japanese audiences were taken aback at seeing a shot of an empty theatre in front of them.