The film experience of a lifetime is about to be unleashed on the unsuspecting citizens of Baton Rouge and the eager students of LSU. For one night only, on Nov. 2 in downtown Baton Rouge, Jonathan Mares Productions and the Manship Theatre will be presenting “The Room Live!” with Greg Sestero.
“The Room,” released in 2003, was written and directed by Tommy Wiseau, one of the actors in the film. A passion project of Wiseau’s, the film’s tumultuous production led to a disastrous final product, largely due to Wiseau’s lack of knowledge in the filmmaking process. It was regarded by numerous critics and audiences alike as one of the worst movies ever made.
However, as the years passed and the film gained more attention, it grew in the eyes of pop culture, eventually gaining an incredibly passionate fanbase and earning the status of a cult classic.
Nationwide, screenings of “The Room,” draw in hundreds of fans, dressed as their favorite characters, who participate in activities related to the film’s unintentionally comedic moments, such as wearing tuxedos, tossing a football around and throwing plastic spoons at the screen.
“I vividly remember the first time watching ‘The Room,’” said Jonathan Mares, one of the producers for the event. “It was, you know, 10 or 11 years ago. I had five or six of my friends over, and we watched it, and it was hilarious. We had never seen anything like it.”
The film’s cult status led to the rise in popularity of its creator, Wiseau, as well as his co-star and friend Greg Sestero, who published a book, titled “The Disaster Artist,” about the tumultuous filmmaking process that went on behind the scenes. That same novel was later made into an Academy Award winning film directed by James Franco, which only helped to garner the original disaster-turned-pop-culture sensation more attention.
“Making movies is such an open challenge,” Sestero said, “You never know what people are going to respond to, you never know which actors people are going to care about.”
As the film’s cult status grew, so did the number of screenings and events, which eventually crossed Mares and Sestero’s path in Louisiana.
Inspired by showings of “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” at the Prytania theater in New Orleans, Mares planned a double feature of “The Room” and “Best F(r)iends” in April 2018. The event was a resounding success, so Mares’ production company, who had put on similar events with Jon Heder of “Napoleon Dynamite,” and many others, turned its attention to Baton Rouge.
“I want people to come in groups [and] bring their friends,” Mares said. “You can be a [Room] newbie and come to the event, and have a fantastic time, and be converted.”
An event for newcomers and veterans of “The Room,” alike, Mares and Sestero hope that this new live environment will cultivate a new understanding of the film, as well as help people to understand the people behind the camera.
“I think it’s a movie that’s been going now for 16 years,” Sestero said. “You’ve got new people discovering it every day. At a certain age, especially when you’re in college, it’s the best time to see it, because you’re so open to new things.”
Sestero knew that Baton Rouge would be an incredible place to have such an event and that LSU students would flock to the theatre.
“People that come from Louisiana are so passionate, and it’s just cool,” Sestero said. “They love the city, and Louisiana has such a great reputation. I just hope people that come to this event and that, at the end of the day, they find some sort of happiness.”
Not only is the screening of the film enhanced by a meet and greet and Q&A, but Sestero will also host live script readings with the original script, and audience members will be selected to read certain roles opposite of Sestero’s character Mark.
“It’s gonna be an awesome time, Greg [Sestero] doesn’t always do actual script readings from the film,” Mares said. “Even if you’ve seen ‘The Room,’ and haven’t been to one of these events, it’s a behind-the-scenes look that you will never forget.”
The event offers an opportunity to celebrate one of cinema’s most unique treasures and experience the complicated production and troubled release through the eyes of one of it’s stars. Even more than that, it is a chance to celebrate a pop-culture phenomenon.
“Most people go to the theater, and they know what to expect, but ‘The Room’ gives them something that they have no idea what to expect, and it is so earnest in what it is trying to stay,” Sestero said.
There will be two showings of the film, at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The meet and greet will be held an hour before each showing. Tickets can be purchased at www.manshiptheatre.org.