'The Room,' which inspired Oscar nom 'Disaster Artist,' a boon for indie theatres - InfoNews

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'The Room,' which inspired Oscar nom 'Disaster Artist,' a boon for indie theatres

In this film publicity image released by Chloe Productions/TPW Films, Juliette Danielle, left,Philip Haldiman, center, and Tommy Wiseau are shown in a scene from "The Room." It's considered one of the worst movies of all time, yet whenever "The Room" screens at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver, it packs in a crowd — not to mention footballs and spoons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Chloe Productions/TPW Films
February 28, 2018 - 9:18 AM

TORONTO - It's considered one of the worst movies of all time, yet whenever "The Room" screens at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver, it packs in a crowd — not to mention footballs and spoons.

"It's been a huge fan favourite here where we can sell it out pretty regularly," says Corinne Lea, owner and operator of the Rio, which has been screening "The Room" sporadically since 2011.

Released in 2003, "The Room" has been called "the 'Citizen Kane' of bad movies" for its ludicrous look at a love triangle, starring eccentric filmmaker Tommy Wiseau as well as Greg Sestero and Juliette Danielle.

But it's become a cult phenomenon based on late-night participatory screenings, in which audience members shout out some of the lines, heckle, and throw spoons and footballs during certain scenes.

Canadian independent theatres say they've seen an even greater spike in attendance in the wake of James Franco's comedy "The Disaster Artist," which details the making of "The Room" and is nominated for an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

"They're insanely popular," says Amelia Cumming, assistant manager of Imagine Cinemas' Carlton Theatre in Toronto, which has been screening "The Room" on the last Saturday of every month for several years.

"We've sold out multiple screens monthly each time we show 'The Room.'"

It's the same situation over at Princess Cinemas in Waterloo, Ont., which has been screening "The Room" monthly for about 10 years.

"As an independent cinema programmer, 'The Room' is an above-average attendance draw," says John Tutt, manager and owner of Princess Cinemas.

"You can't watch it at home by yourself or even with two or three friends. It's like 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' in the sense that it's a completely different experience. You've got to be there."

In fact, it was a screening of "The Room" at the Rio where Franco got his inspiration for "The Disaster Artist."

Franco saw the film there while shooting 2014's "The Interview" in Vancouver. Sestero was also in attendance and Franco met him and negotiated the film rights to his 2013 memoir, "The Disaster Artist."

Screenings of "The Room" typically include audience members throwing spoons (usually plastic) because the film has many scenes with picture frames displaying a stock photo of a spoon.

Lea says at the Rio, there are so many spoons left on the floor after screenings that she needs two extra staff members on hand to clean them up.

Footballs, often the toy sponge kind, are thrown around whenever Wiseau and Sestero toss one in the film.

Audience members also shout out "focus" for scenes that are blurry and "unfocus" for a scene featuring Wiseau's bare behind.

"It's so bad it's good," says Dylan Byth, a 23-year-old Vancouver software developer who has seen "The Room" five times at the Rio and a handful of times at home.

"It's so entertaining, accidentally, on all fronts," adds Jeff Locke, a 44-year-old Toronto insurance company supervisor who has seen the film three times on the big screen and multiple times elsewhere.

"It's just a spectacular failure on dialogue, on acting, the effects, the execution of it."

The Rio, Carlton and Princess cinemas say despite the rowdy atmosphere, they haven't had any problems with the crowds at the screenings.

"Everyone is yelling and having fun and it's just really high-energy," says Cumming.

"It's really caught on as a fun night out at the movies," says Tutt.

But it was a different scenario when "The Room" was screening at the Royal Cinema in Toronto from about 2012 to 2014, says the theatre's former programmer Colin Geddes.

"The public screening audiences I've seen have actually been pretty disgusting and when I say 'disgusting,' misogynistic and really bro-ish," says Geddes, who is a curator for the horror streaming service Shudder, and former Midnight Madness programmer of the Toronto International Film Festival.

"Any time a female character is on the screen they are yelling names: 'whore,' 'bitch,' 'slut,' et cetera. Our female staff felt threatened."

Geddes says the Royal also experienced vandalism during "The Room" nights. "We had someone try to dismantle the plumbing in the men's washroom and we had a flood," he recalls.

While the screenings were financially good for the Royal, "at a certain point it just wasn't worth it," he adds.

"The film kind of promotes and encourages bad behaviour and men behaving badly, so you have those people who are trying to say something funnier than the film," says Geddes, admitting he's not a fan of "The Room."

"Imagine being in a room full of hecklers, hecklers who heckle at standup comedians. That's what it's like."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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