When Deadline announced last Friday that James Franco’s production company had optioned the rights to the book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, with Franco set to direct, people who knew which room they were talking about were excited. The book’s co-author was extra excited. Others were, perhaps, confused. That’s understandable: the book in question is the making-of story for a movie that the book’s own subtitle refers to as “the greatest bad movie ever made.” The Room is a movie most people haven’t seen, after all.
But The Room is also one of the biggest, weirdest cult-movie success stories ever: Though it was initially a flop, the dizzyingly inexplicable 2003 film — from writer/director/star/self-financier Tommy Wiseau — turned into a phenomenon complete with Rocky Horror-esque late-night screenings and fans who’ve seen it many times over.
For the uninitiated, here’s how to catch up on Room-mania:
Read Tom Bissell’s original Harper’s piece: Bissell, the journalist who wrote The Disaster Artist with actor Greg Sestero, first wrote about the movie in 2010 for Harper’s Magazine. The article dissects the phenomenon surrounding the film, which he later described as “a funhouse-mirror version of a conventional movie.” Another good (and un-paywalled!) article to start with is Entertainment Weekly‘s 2008 take on the film and its celebrity fans.
Read Franco’s review of The Disaster Artist for Vice: The actor/filmmaker wrote up his take on the book back in December. Franco says that the book, rather than just making fun of Tommy Wiseau, is an astute look at what it means to try to be an artist in a moviemaking culture that’s not always accepting of difference — an idea that hints at what his cinematic take will be. (Or you could just read the book, which came out last fall.)
(MORE: James Franco Is the 21st Century’s First Great Public Intellectual)
Listen to a radio story about the movie: NPR has a story about The Room from 2006, and Studio 360 did a piece about the book and movie last November:
Go to a screening: Fans use Facebook to keep track of where the movie can be seen in person.
Or just watch the trailer: