The Disaster Artist recreates infamous billboard for The Room
Another disaster has struck Highland Avenue in Hollywood—and this one's pretty funny.
The marketing campaign for James Franco's upcoming making-of-The Room movie, The Disaster Artist, has staked out some hallowed ground for the next step of its advertising blitz, commandeering a Hollywood billboard that once stood as the world's biggest invitation to The Room.
The Los Angeles Times' Jen Yamato tweeted out a picture of the billboard, which replicates the original advertisement almost exactly, right down to including a phone number which, according to Disaster Artist actor Seth Rogen, belongs to a phone owned by James Franco.
If you're a pop culture pessimist who can't help but see modern entertainment as a fattened serpent eagerly devouring its own tail from now into infinity, well, there's a lot going on for you with the ad campaign for The Disaster Artist.
A highly-referential—and reverential—movie about the creation of the legendarily terrible 2003 film and the B-movie mania that came to surround it, The Disaster Artist is looking to hold a mirror up not just to the making of The Room, but also the unlikely path it took to touch the hearts of audiences worldwide.
Calling the number sends you a voicemail greeting with a remarkably recognizable accent. "You've reached the voicemail of Tommy Wiseau," the message says, evidently Franco-as-Wiseau. "I'm very busy guy. I may be on another call. Or maybe just don't want to talk to you. I'm joking my friend! Leave me a message. Ha ha ha ha."
The voice mailbox was full at the time Looper attempted contact. The original number for Wiseau's billboard, (323) 654-6192, is still active to this day.
It's hard to overstate just how important this enigmatic billboard was in spreading the legend of The Room across Los Angeles and, later, the world.
Looming mysteriously over Hollywood's Highland Avenue, the bizarre non sequitur of an advertisement stood for five years, prominently featuring Tommy Wiseau's creepy headshot and describing almost nothing about the contents of the movie. (In Wiseau's defense, the movie is rather difficult to explain, but it's far from the horror movie Wiseau's ghastly visage suggests.)
Over time, the inexplicable billboard became its own sort of pop culture landmark, if only for the mystery of how a movie that by all rights should have been forgotten forever was still being advertised for years after the movie's ignominious release: a two-week theatrical run in a single theater which earned $1,800.
The story of that billboard is almost a capsule metaphor for the story of The Room's creation itself, with director Tommy Wiseau bringing his work into the popular consciousness using a combination of a lot of his own money and sheer tyranny of will.
To keep the billboard up as long as it was reportedly would have cost the artist upwards of $300,000, so regardless of what you think about the movie or Wiseau himself, you simply have to admire the audacity of the stunt and the work ethic on display here.
In addition to Franco as Wiseau, The Disaster Artist also stars Dave Franco as Greg Sestero, the Room actor who wrote the tell-all book on which the film is based. The cast also includes Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Josh Hutherson, Ari Graynor, and Jacki Weaver, working from a script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.
The Disaster Artist will be out in theaters in the US on December 1.