Allow me to begin by saying that if you are the type of person who cannot stand audiences talking in the movie theater, then going to see Tommy Wiseau’s The Room may not be the best idea. This is a true experience film, on the level of cult classics like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where the audience participation is as much (or possibly more) a part of the show as the film itself, and what a film it is.
In the decade since its release, The Room has attained a cult status, being dubbed one of the worst movies ever made. When first released in 2003, it was reported that the majority of the audience demanded their money back before even thirty minutes of the film had gone by. It its two week initial theatrical run, The Room grossed $1,900, somewhat shy of the $6 million spent on production and marketing.
Monthly screenings continued in Los Angeles though, and overtime a fan base developed with more and more people hearing about how they had to see this film because it was just that bad. Now you can catch a showing of The Room in major cities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada with increasing regularity.
I went to see The Room at the Landmark E Street Cinema. Located two blocks from the Metro Center station in downtown Washington, DC, E Street Cinema specializes in independent and foreign language films in a luxury atmosphere. They serve alcohol (though the bar closes at 12:15), there was a refreshing lack of advertisements and trailers before the feature, and my student ticket, at $9, was less than I would pay for a ticket at the asphyxiatingly corporate AMC down the street (where I would have the added bonus of being harassed every 30 seconds to join their rewards program. Trust me, I used to work there).
This was my first time seeing The Room, which was something clearly not true for the majority of my audience. They came equipped with handfuls of spoons to throw forward every time a particular framed photograph appeared on screen (be prepared to be pelted if you like to sit towards the front). There were footballs being tossed back and forth across the theater (with limited success due to apparent inebriation). There was speaking along with the dialogue, response to the dialogue, singing along with the music, coming up with new music to sing, and general complete participation with the experience of being there.
These interactions I expect serve to make every viewing ofThe Room unique. Your enjoyment might vary significantly depending on whether the fellow sitting in the row ahead is as funny as he thinks he is (and whether you’re not paying enough attention to avoid the football headed towards your head, because this is not a venue where people hold back.
There will be another midnight showing of the room at E Street Cinemas on the 23rd of November. This is definitely a Friday show made better if you bring a few friends and possibly stop by a bar beforehand.