11 Surprising Facts About The Room

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At this point, it’s a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Thirteen years after a lackluster opening weekend, The Room—lovingly known as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies”—now draws huge crowds in theaters all over America. Be advised that, if you attend a screening, there’s a good chance you’ll get hit with a barrage of fan-thrown plastic spoons. More on those after the jump. 

1. IT WAS CONCEIVED AS A STAGE PLAY.

The Room sprung from the mind of Tommy Wiseau, its mysterious co-producer, screenwriter, director, and star. At first, he wanted it to be a play but decided that a feature film would be more profitable. Before tackling the script though, Wiseau turned his tale into a 500-page novel. “It’s the same story but it’s much more detail-oriented,” he told The Portland Mercury. What became of this tome? Wiseau says, “Eventually we will publish. I’m pretty sure, 100 percent.” Apparently, one publishing company has expressed an interest in putting it out—if he can reduce the length to 300 pages. 

2. TOMMY WISEAU WANTED TO INCLUDE A FLYING CAR.

The main character in The Room is Johnny (Wiseau), a banker who loves tossing footballs, imitating chickens, and hanging out with his best buddy, Mark (played by Greg Sestero). But is there more to Johnny than meets the eye? In 2013, Sestero released The Disaster Artist, a tell-all book about The Room and its bizarre production. Inside, we learn that Wiseau often ambushed the crew mid-shoot with ideas for brand-new scenes. One of these—which was never filmed—would’ve involved Johnny’s car levitating up off his roof and into the sky. “It’s just possible side plot,” Wiseau elucidated. “Maybe Johnny is vampire.”

3. TO PREPARE FOR THE ROLE OF LISA, JULIETTE DANIELLE WATCHED EYES WIDE SHUT.

Throughout the film, Mark is having an affair with Johnny’s fiancée, Lisa. Originally, the part was given to an unidentified actress whom Wiseau later fired. Once she left, Danielle took over—even though she had already been cast as Michelle (Lisa’s best friend) when she was handed this very different character. To help her get inside Lisa’s head, Wiseau had the actress watch Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut—but he never explained why. “I still don’t know what he was trying to do there,” Danielle admitted.

4. THE ROOM’S INFAMOUS SPOON PICTURES WERE STOCK PHOTOS.

Johnny and Lisa really seem to like cutlery. For reasons the movie never makes clear, their apartment is decked out with pictures of spoons. These actually came with the frames that Wiseau’s team had bought to decorate the set. Instead of replacing the throwaway photos, he kept them in. Why? Sestero says that Wiseau just wanted to “get on with the filming” and didn’t think there’d be time to find new pictures. On the other hand, the director himself swears that these spoons have a deep symbolic purpose—namely, they represent America’s unhealthy dependence on disposable products.

In any event, whenever The Room is presented in theaters nowadays, those stock photos steal the show. Every time they appear, fans yell “Spoon!” and throw plastic ones at the screen.  

5. GREG SESTERO INSISTED ON REMAINING HALF-CLOTHED DURING MARK AND LISA’S SEX SCENE.

“Tommy … definitely wanted to show some flesh,” Sestero told Rolling Stone. “I was like, ‘Uh, that’s not going to happen with me.’ So, luckily, he made the exception so I could have my jeans on.” When the movie later premiered, Sestero got up and left before the scene began. Even today, the actor claims that he can’t stomach this sequence—which oddly takes place on a spiral staircase. “It’s a part of the movie at which I always fast-forward or run for the exit because it’s just painful to watch.”

6. AN ALL-NEW CHARACTER WAS CREATED FOR THE CLIMAX BECAUSE ONE ACTOR LEFT EARLY.

The Room has a 97-minute runtime. “Steven”—a character who’s never referred to by name—doesn’t show up until the 76-minute mark. When he finally appears at Johnny’s climactic house party, the man repeatedly confronts Lisa about her affair. Because we’re never told who Steven is or how he knows any of the other guests, his sudden arrival baffles viewers.

Originally, he wasn’t in the script. Instead, his lines were supposed to be delivered by an established character named Peter. A psychologist played by Kyle Vogt, Peter makes several appearances in the movie’s second act—and even gets into a shoving match with Mark over Lisa’s two-timing ways. Unfortunately, prior engagements forced Vogt to leave The Room before it finished filming. Wiseau’s solution? Cut out Peter and give his lines to a never-before-seen character. After a casting call, Wiseau hired Greg Ellery, telling him, “Peter left. Now you are like Peter, but you are Steven.”

7. TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE, WISEAU PERSONALLY SPENT $5000 PER MONTH—FOR FIVE YEARS—ON AN ENIGMATIC BILLBOARD.

There’s no shortage of odd sights in Hollywood, but this one really stood out. Perched on the west side of Highland, a cryptic billboard spent half a decade advertising The Room. Being a man of means, Wiseau paid for it himself. Design-wise, this thing was rather straightforward. The sign mainly consisted of a scowling Johnny close-up with a plug for the movie’s official website. Far more intriguing to most passersby was its location: Just a few blocks away stands the Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards ceremonies. As The Room’s cult following grew, the sign became a minor landmark of sorts. Then, long after Wiseau had the image removed in 2008, Sestero advertised The Disaster Artist on this exact same billboard.

8. THE ROOM’S ORIGINAL RUN ONLY MADE $1900.

On June 27, 2003, Wiseau’s masterpiece arrived in theaters—two of them, to be precise. The Room’s initial run was confined to the Laemmle Fallbrook and Fairfax cinemas in Los Angeles. By the time it was pulled from both just 14 days later, the film had grossed a meager $1900. Yet, all was not lost. B-movie history was about to intervene.

9. ONE CINEPHILE ALMOST SINGLE-HANDEDLY KICKED OFF THE ROOM’S CULT FOLLOWING.

One of the few people who saw the film during that two-week original run was screenwriter Michael Rousselet. At an “absolutely empty” theater, he found himself enthralled by The Room and its mesmerizing, laugh-out-loud ineptitude. Toward the end of the film, Rousselet started ringing his friends and telling them “You have to come see this movie.” Three days later, he’d amassed a crowd of more than 100 people. Many emailed Wiseau to personally thank him for his work. Encouraged, the director set up an encore, midnight showing at Laemmle. The turnout exceeded even his wildest expectations and—without hesitation—Wiseau arranged to have it screened monthly.

10. WISEAU HAS RETROACTIVELY CALLED THE ROOM A DARK COMEDY.

To hear Wiseau tell it, the film was supposed to be a humorous, tongue-in-cheek farce all along—which means that The Room’s narrative blunders, according to Wiseau, were deliberate. Yet an anonymous cast member disputed this claim in a 2008 conversation with Entertainment Weekly. “He was trying to put together a drama,” claimed the source. “It was basically his stage to show off his acting ability.”

11. JAMES FRANCO JUST MADE A MOVIE ABOUT THE ROOM—AND WISEAU MIGHT HAVE A CAMEO.

Scheduled for release sometime this fall, The Masterpiece is a big-budget film adaptation of The Disaster Artist. James Franco is directing and will also be playing Wiseau—and, evidently, he got to share a scene with the man himself. “Tommy was involved contractually,” Franco said. “We had to give him a cameo opposite me which was very weird because I was playing him. I don’t know if that’ll end up in the movie or not, but it was a surreal experience.”

Rewind Time With This Blockbuster-Themed Party Game

Amazon/Big Potato Games
Amazon/Big Potato Games

With only one Blockbuster location left in the world, the good old days of wandering video rental store aisles and getting chewed out for late fees are definitely a thing of the past—but like so many relics from the '90s, the pull of nostalgia has ensured that Blockbuster (or at least the brand) won't disappear for good. Now the video store is back in the form of a party game from Big Potato Games that is designed to test the movie knowledge of you and up to 11 friends.

Marketing itself as “a movie game for anyone who has ever seen a movie,” the Blockbuster party game consists of two parts. In part one, players from each team compete head-to-head to name as many movies as they can that fit under specific categories (e.g., movies with Tom Cruise, famous trilogies, movies with planes). In the second half, two teams face off against each other to test their skills at a game of movie-related charades. The catch? Players can only describe movies in one of three randomly chosen ways: acting out scenes, rattling off a famous quote, or describing the films with one word.

The real selling point of the whole package is that Big Potato fit all the game cards and buzzer into a box that is virtually identical to the old-school Blockbuster VHS rental cases, right down to its distinct color scheme and shape. All it's missing is the membership card. 

The Blockbuster board game costs $26 on Amazon and $20 at Target. That’s a fair price for getting the chance to rewind time.

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8 Festive Facts About Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies

The holiday season means gifts, lavish meals, stocking stuffers, and what appear to be literally hundreds of holiday-themed movies running in perpetuity on the Hallmark Channel, which has come to replace footage of a crackling fireplace as the background noise of choice for cozy evenings indoors. Last year, roughly 70 million people watched Hallmark's holiday scheduling block. If you’re curious how the network manages to assemble films like Check Inn to Christmas, Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays, and Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen with such efficiency—a total of 40 new films will debut this season on the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, and Hallmark Movies Now—keep reading.

1. The Hallmark Channel Christmas movie tradition started with ABC.

The idea of unspooling a continuous run of holiday films started in the 1990s, when ABC offshoot network ABC Family started a "25 Days of Christmas" programming promotion that would go on to feature the likes of Joey Lawrence and Mario Lopez. The Hallmark Channel, which launched in 2001, didn’t fully embrace the concept until 2011, when ABC Family moved away from the concept in an effort to appeal to teen viewers.

2. Most Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are shot in Canada.

To maximize their $2 million budget, most Hallmark Channel holiday features are shot in Canada, where tax breaks can stretch the dollar. Wintry Vancouver is a popular destination, though films have also been shot in Montreal and Toronto. One film, 2018's Christmas at the Palace, was shot in Romania to take advantage of the country's castles.

3. Each Hallmark Channel Christmas movie only takes a couple of weeks to film.

If you’re wondering why a holiday movie on basic cable can regularly attract—and keep—a list of talent ranging from Candace Cameron Bure to Lacey Chabert, the answer is partly scheduling. Most Hallmark holiday movies take just two to three weeks to shoot, meaning actors don’t have to commit months out of the year to a project. Actors like Rachael Leigh Cook, who stars in this year's A Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas, have also complimented the channel on giving them opportunities to be with their families while on location: Cook said that the production schedule allowed her time to FaceTime with family back home.

4. Hallmark Channel Christmas movies use a variety of tricks to create snow.

Even more pervasive than Dean Cain in the Hallmark Channel Christmas line-up is snow. Because some of the films shoot in the summer, it’s not always possible to achieve that powder naturally. Producers use a variety of tricks to simulate snowfall, including snow blankets that mimic the real thing when laid out; foam; commercial replica snow; crushed limestone; and ice shavings. Actors might also get covered with soapy bubbles for close-ups. The typical budget for snow per movie is around $50,000.

5. There’s a psychological reason why Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are so addictive.

Like a drug, Hallmark Channel Christmas movies provide a neurological reward. Speaking with CNBC in 2019, Pamela Rutledge, behavioral scientist, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, and a faculty member in the Media Psychology department at Fielding Graduate University, explained that the formulaic plots and predictability of the films is rewarding, especially when viewers are trying to unwind from the stress of the holiday season. “The lack of reality at all levels, from plot to production, signals that the movies are meant to be escapism entertainment,” Rutledge said. “The genre is well-defined, and our expectations follow. This enables us to suspend disbelief.”

6. Hallmark Channel Christmas movie fans now have their own convention.

Call it the Comic-Con of holiday cheer. This year, fans of Hallmark Channel’s Christmas programming got to attend ChristmasCon, a celebration of all things Hallmark in Edison, New Jersey. Throngs of people gathered to attend panels with movie actors and writers, scoop up merchandise, and vie for prizes during an ugly sweater competition. The first wave of $50 admission tickets sold out instantly. Hallmark Channel USA was the official sponsor.

7. Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are helping keep cable afloat.

Actors Brooke D'Orsay and Marc Blucas are pictured in a publicity still from the 2017 Hallmark Channel original movie 'Miss Christmas'
Brooke D'Orsay and Marc Blucas in Miss Christmas (2017).
Hallmark Channel

In an era of cord-cutting and streaming apps, more and more people are turning away from cable television, preferring to queue up programming when they want it. But viewers of Hallmark Channel’s holiday offerings often tune in as the movie is airing. In 2016, 4 million viewers watched the line-up “live.” One reason might be the communal nature of the films. People tend to watch holiday-oriented programming in groups, tuning in as they air. The result? For the fourth quarter of 2018, the Hallmark Channel was the most-watched cable network among women 18 to 49 and 25 to 54, even outpacing broadcast network programming on Saturday nights.

8. You can get paid to watch Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.

If you think you have the constitution to make it through 24 Hallmark Channel holiday films in 12 days, you might want to consider applying for the Hallmark Movie Dream Job contest, which is sponsored by Internet Service Partners and will pay $1000 to the winning entrant who seems most capable of binging the two dozen films and making wry comments about them on social media. You can enter though December 6 here.

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