Update: Citing “overwhelming fan demand,” Fathom Events has added an encore screening at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, at four South Florida theaters.
In June 2003, filmmaker Tommy Wiseau screened his hilariously bad movie “The Room” for the first time at a pair of Los Angeles theaters. Since then, the film has gained legions of passionate fans on its march toward global cult status, inspiring the recent James Franco-directed movie “The Disaster Artist” while baffling critics, one of whom called it “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.”
But Wiseau’s $6 million train wreck is finally getting its due: On Wednesday, Jan. 10, “The Room” will screen at nearly 600 theaters nationwide, including four in South Florida. Presented by Fathom Events, the re-release will be paired with a trailer for Wiseau’s new drama, “Best F(r)iends,” produced with his “Room” co-star Greg Sestero.
Celebrated for its unmatched terribleness, poor dialogue and the garbled, vaguely Eastern-European accent of its star, Wiseau, “The Room” has spawned countless “Rocky Horror”-style midnight screenings. Fans are known to toss spoons and footballs whenever those objects appear on screen, or shout memorable lines (“Oh, hi, Mark!” and “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” being the notables).
Which is exactly what happened during a December showing at O Cinema Wynwood. Theater co-founder Kareem Tabsch screened the film to coincide with the release of “The Disaster Artist,” which follows the making of “The Room” and stars Franco as the long-haired, muscled Wiseau.
“It was a rowdy and raucous time,” Tabsch recalls of the screening. “If you take the film apart, the acting is bad, the cinematography is mediocre, and the story is nonsensical. What makes ‘The Room’ so endearing is how much it perfectly misses the mark, a perfect storm of badness. It’s a midnight movie for the millennial generation.”
“The Room” follows the story of bank employee Johnny (Wiseau), who lives a seemingly idyllic life with his fiancée, Lisa, in their San Francisco townhouse. Bored with the relationship, Lisa seduces Johnny’s best friend, Mark, played by Wiseau’s real-life best friend, Sestero, who went on to write the critically acclaimed memoir “The Disaster Artist.” Thrown footballs and over-the-top anger ensues.
“I've never called it a cult phenomenon, or whatever they call it," Wiseau says. “I call it a free expression. I encourage people to express themselves in the screenings. A ton of people ask me, 'Why do you encourage that?' I say, 'Why not?' What I wanted was to give them a smile, and it's their choice if they want to express themselves."
“The Room” will screen 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, at Regal Magnolia Place 16, 9645 Westview Drive, Coral Springs; Cinemark Paradise 24, 15601 Sheridan St., Davie; Regal Sawgrass 23, 2600 NW 136th Ave., Sunrise; and Regal Falls 12, 9000 SW 136th St., Miami. For more information, go to FathomEvents.com.