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The Room

The Room is being screened the first Friday of every month at the Academy Cinema on Lorne St. Don't forget your plastic spoons.
By Calida Smylie
August 13, 2011
By Calida Smylie
August 13, 2011

How does a film with the reputation of being one of the world's worst movies get screened weekly at Auckland city's Academy Cinema?

By establishing a cult following of hundreds of fans called "roomies". The Room — dubbed the "Citizen Kane of Bad Movies" by Entertainment Weekly — was written, acted, directed and produced by American Tommy Wiseau.

It has become a cult phenomenon despite spectacularly flopping onto American movie screens in 2003. The film made less than $2000 in its initial run, despite costing $6 million to make. An Academy Cinema spokesperson says the film is "dreadful", and plastic cutlery is thrown at the screen by the audience during every showing.

But Academy Cinema's film supplier, Ant Timpson, sheds light on why audiences keep coming back for more. "The Room is a religious experience for many and the cinema is a church. It is as if God himself picked up a camera and decided to make a film."

The plot centres around a love triangle between main character Johnny, his fiancee Lisa, and his best friend Mark. Twenty-four-year-old marketing strategist Krissy Finch went to see The Room in Wellington. She says it was "the most bizarre experience in my life".

"A friend told me to bring some wine and some plastic spoons to the movie theatre. I thought we were having a picnic, but all of a sudden the whole crowd started chanting the actors' lines and throwing spoons at the screen!" Timpson explains the spoon-throwing. "You may call them spoons but to The Room they are artifacts that symbolise the gifting of something close to you."

Much of the dialogue in the film is dubbed — often not matching up to what the actors are saying onscreen. One character is never introduced, spoken to or addressed by name, despite having a speaking role. The film involves several subplots, many of which are never resolved. "They start one plot line, then forget about it. At one point a character casually drops into conversation that she has breast cancer — then it is never mentioned again," says Finch.

Despite this, Finch is a newly minted "roomie. I can't wait to go again — it was hilarious."

Timpson says when the film screens in the theatre, excitement is palpable. "People scream and want to be part of the film. For them it is flesh and blood. Tommy Wiseau is the Messiah."

The Room is being screened the first Friday of every month at the Academy Cinema on Lorne St. Don't forget your plastic spoons.


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