The Disaster Artist (film)

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The Disaster Artist
A group of people in tuxedos in a theater watching a film.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Franco
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made
by Greg Sestero
Tom Bissell
Starring
Music by Dave Porter
Cinematography Brandon Trost
Edited by Stacey Schroeder
Production
company
Distributed by
Release date
  • March 12, 2017 (2017-03-12) (SXSW)
  • December 1, 2017 (2017-12-01) (United States)
Running time
103 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[3]
Box office $29.8 million[4]

The Disaster Artist is a 2017 American biographical comedy-drama film produced and directed by James Franco. Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the film is based on Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell's 2013 non-fiction book of the same name, and chronicles the making of Tommy Wiseau's 2003 film The Room, widely considered one of the worst films ever made. The film stars brothers James and Dave Franco as Wiseau and Sestero, respectively, alongside a supporting cast featuring Seth Rogen (who also produced), Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, and Jacki Weaver.

Principal photography began on December 8, 2015. A work-in-progress cut of the film premiered at South by Southwest on March 12, 2017; it was later screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, and also played at the 2017 San Sebastián International Film Festival, where it became the first American film to win its top prize, the Golden Shell, since A Thousand Years of Good Prayers in 2007.[5]

Distributed by A24 in the United States and Warner Bros. in international markets, The Disaster Artist began a limited release on December 1, 2017, before opening wide on December 8, 2017. It received positive reviews from critics, with James Franco's portrayal of Wiseau as well as the film's humor and screenplay receiving praise,[6][7] and was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2017.[8] At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, James Franco won the award for Best Actor – Musical or Comedy; the film was also nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.[9] Franco also received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role at the 24th Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the film earned a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 90th Academy Awards.

Plot[edit]

San Francisco, 1998: 19-year-old Greg Sestero meets Tommy Wiseau in acting classes with Jean Shelton. Shelton criticizes Tommy's protracted and bizarre performance of a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire, but Greg is impressed by Tommy's fearlessness and the two become friends. On Tommy's suggestion, they move to Los Angeles to pursue acting careers. Sestero discovers that Wiseau can afford apartments in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, but Wiseau will not discuss his personal life nor the source of his wealth.

Greg signs with Iris Burton, a talent agent, while Tommy’s rejection from agencies, casting directors, and Hollywood insiders is tearing him apart. Greg develops a relationship with Amber, whom he meets at her job at a nightclub, and Tommy grows jealous; as he fails to find work and is rebuffed by acting teachers, casting directors and producers, he becomes disheartened. As Greg's auditions also dry up, he shares his frustrations with Tommy, who decides to make a movie for them to star in.

Tommy writes a screenplay titled The Room, a melodrama about a love triangle between banker Johnny (played by Tommy), his fiancée Lisa and his best friend Mark. Greg reluctantly accepts the role of Mark and a line producer credit. They rent out a production house; Tommy insists on buying all the production equipment and shooting the film on 35 mm film and HD Digital simultaneously, costly and unnecessary measures. The employees introduce Tommy to Raphael Smadja and Sandy Schklair, who work as his cinematographer and script supervisor respectively.

Production starts smoothly, but Tommy is difficult to work with. He forgets his lines, arrives late, and refuses to supply his crew with basic needs such as drinking water, causing an actress to faint. During preparation for a sex scene, Tommy humiliates actress Juliette Danielle by pointing out her acne to the crew. Having filmed extensive behind-the-scenes footage, Tommy reveals that he knows everybody hates him, and believes that nobody, including Greg, supports his vision.

Greg and Amber run into Malcolm in the Middle star Bryan Cranston, who invites Greg to fill in for a small lumberjack part in a Malcolm episode. The part requires a beard; as Greg is due to shave his beard for The Room, he begs Tommy to postpone shooting, but Tommy refuses. On the last day of shooting, Greg accuses Tommy of being selfish and duplicitous throughout their friendship, and questions his real age and origins, before storming off set.

Eight months later, Amber and Greg have split up and Greg is working in theatre. Tommy invites Greg to the premiere of The Room; to his surprise, the entire cast and crew attend. The audience react first with horror then laughter at the film. Tommy bursts into tears and walks out, but Greg comforts him, telling him they have delighted the audience, not angered them. With a renewed mindset, Tommy returns to the theater as the credits roll, takes credit for his "comedic" movie, and receives a standing ovation.

Real-life clips of Wiseau and Sestero attending screenings of The Room play, and title cards explain that the film made $1,800 against its reported $6 million budget during its initial release (Wiseau kept it running for two weeks to qualify for the Academy Awards), but it has since become a profitable cult film. Wiseau and Sestero remain friends and, to this day, Wiseau's age, past life and source of income remain a mystery. Scenes from The Room are then compared side-by-side with reenactments of the scenes performed by The Disaster Artist's cast.

In a post-credits scene, Wiseau has an odd verbal exchange with a party goer (played by the real Wiseau), who offers to hang out, but Wiseau refuses.

Cast[edit]

J. J. Abrams, Lizzy Caplan, Kristen Bell, Keegan-Michael Key, Adam Scott, Danny McBride, Kevin Smith, and Ike Barinholtz appear as themselves in a prologue discussing The Room and its reputation.[14] Other roles include John Early as Chris (Iris Burton's executive assistant), Joe Mande as DP Todd Barron, Charlyne Yi as costume designer Safowa Bright-Asare, Kelly Oxford as makeup artist Amy Von Brock, Tom Franco as Karl, Zoey Deutch as Tommy's acting classmate Bobbi, Sugar Lyn Beard as an actress auditioning for Lisa, Brian Huskey as a bank teller, Randall Park as Greg's acting classmate Rob, Jerrod Carmichael as an actor friend of Greg's, Casey Wilson as a casting director, Lauren Ash as the florist in The Room's "Hi, doggie" sequence, and Angelyne as herself. Greg Sestero appears as an assistant casting director,[15] while Tommy Wiseau appears in a post-credits scene as a character named Henry.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In February 2014, Seth Rogen's production company Point Grey Pictures announced it had acquired the book and film rights to The Disaster Artist. James Franco was set to direct and play Wiseau, and his brother Dave Franco was cast as Sestero. James Franco stated The Disaster Artist was "a combination of Boogie Nights and The Master."[16] According to Franco, Wiseau initially had hoped Johnny Depp would play him.[17] In April 2016, the title was reported to have changed from The Disaster Artist to The Masterpiece,[18] though The Disaster Artist was confirmed as the official title when the film's SXSW premiere was announced.[19]

Casting[edit]

In June 2014, James Franco's younger brother, Dave Franco, informally announced at a midnight showing of The Room that he had been cast in the co-starring role of Greg Sestero. Wiseau praised the decision in a Q&A session.[20] The film is the first collaboration of James and brother Dave, as the younger Franco has said that he had sought different projects deliberately, specifying in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, "I didn't want people to think I was riding his coattails."[21] As New Line Cinema sought to acquire The Disaster Artist in October 2015, one of the film's producers, and frequent Franco collaborator, Seth Rogen, was in negotiations to play The Room's script supervisor, Sandy Schklair.[22] Schklair expressed concern over the film's portrayal of him, as Rogen did not pursue contact with him, despite his offers to sit down and discuss the film.[23] The remainder of the principal cast were revealed in the days prior to the beginning of filming, in early December 2015: Josh Hutcherson plays Philip Haldiman, Ari Graynor as Juliette Danielle, Jacki Weaver as Carolyn Minnott, Hannibal Buress as Bill Meur, Andrew Santino as Scott Holmes, and Zac Efron as Dan Janjigian.[24][25][26][27] Dave Franco's wife, Alison Brie, joined the cast in the role of Sestero's then-girlfriend, Amber,[28] and Sharon Stone was later announced to have been cast as Hollywood talent agent Iris Burton.[29] Sestero stated in January 2016 that Bryan Cranston had been cast in the film in an undisclosed role. In November 2016, he was revealed to be playing himself, during his time working on Malcolm in the Middle.[30]

Music[edit]

Dave Porter composed the film's score.[31]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on December 8, 2015, in Los Angeles,[32] and ended on January 28, 2016.[33]

Release[edit]

The film had its premiere, in a work-in-progress form, at South by Southwest on March 12, 2017.[34][35][19] In May 2017, A24 acquired distribution rights to the film, and set the film for a limited release on December 1, 2017, before a wide release on December 8.[36] Warner Bros. Pictures distributes the film internationally,[37] and it received an IMAX release in selected areas as well.[38]

Marketing[edit]

On October 25, 2017, A24 mounted a billboard on Highland Avenue in Los Angeles that replicated the original The Room billboard that Wiseau kept up from 2003 to 2008.[39][40]

Home media[edit]

It was released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download on March 13, 2018.[41]

As of March 18, 2018, its estimated US home media sales were $752,366.[42]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The Disaster Artist grossed $21.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $8.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $29.8 million, against a production budget of $10 million.[4]

The film grossed $1.2 million from 19 theaters in its limited opening weekend, finishing 12th at the box office and averaging $64,254 per venue, one of the highest averages of 2017.[43] The film had its wide expansion the following week, alongside the opening of Just Getting Started, and was projected to gross around $5 million from 840 theaters over the weekend.[44] It ended up making $6.4 million, finishing 4th at the box office.[45] The following week, despite being added to 170 additional theaters, the film dropped a more-than-expected 57% to $2.7 million, finishing 8th.[46] In its third weekend of wide release it made $884,576 ($1.2 million over the four day Christmas frame), dropping to 17th.[47]

Critical response[edit]

The Disaster Artist received a standing ovation at its initial screening at South by Southwest.[48][49] On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 91% based on 284 reviews and an average rating of 7.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Oh, hai Mark. The Disaster Artist is a surprisingly poignant and charming movie-about-a-movie that explores the creative process with unexpected delicacy."[50] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 76 out of 100 based on 44 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[51] Audiences polled by PostTrak gave the film an 81% overall positive score and a 66% "definite recommend".[45]

Erik Childress of The Playlist dubbed James Franco's performance his "best... since his Oscar-nominated turn in 127 Hours." Further, he wrote that "as a director it is nice to finally see him embrace the comfort zone of comedy with enough cameos to rival Robert Altman's The Player."[52] Peter Debruge of Variety said it had a "genuine capacity to delight, whether or not the audiences in question have seen The Room."[53]

Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, saying: "As a director, Franco succeeds beautifully at bringing coherence to chaos, a word that accurately describes the making of this modern midnight-movie phenomenon. Do you need to see The Room to appreciate The Disaster Artist? Not really."[54] Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times called the film "a hilarious, heartening celebration of failure".[55]

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote that it is "a divertingly funny movie, but its breeziness can also feel overstated, at times glib and a bit of a dodge".[56] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film three out of five stars, writing that the film brings up unanswered questions, and that it "has room for improvement".[57] Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club gave the film a rating of "C", calling it a "lousy tribute" and asking, "will anyone who hasn't seen The Room actually be able to piece together a sense of this Z-grade sensation from watching The Disaster Artist?"[58]

Accolades[edit]

Franco was considered a front runner to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. However, though he was nominated at other awards, he didn't get the nomination, a rejection some suspected was due to an accusation leveled against him of sexual misconduct the day after winning the Golden Globe.

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards March 4, 2018 Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated [59]
Austin Film Critics Association January 8, 2018 Best Actor James Franco Nominated [60]
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated
Casting Society of America January 18, 2018 Studio or Independent – Comedy Rich Delia Nominated [61]
Chicago Film Critics Association December 12, 2017 Best Actor James Franco Nominated [62]
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 11, 2018 Best Actor James Franco Nominated [63]
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated
Best Comedy The Disaster Artist Nominated
Best Actor in a Comedy James Franco Won
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association December 13, 2017 Best Actor James Franco 2nd Place [64]
Detroit Film Critics Society December 7, 2017 Best Film The Disaster Artist Nominated [65]
Best Actor James Franco Won
Dorian Awards February 24, 2018 Best Performance of the Year – Actor James Franco Nominated [66]
[67]
Campy Film of the Year The Disaster Artist Nominated
Empire Awards March 18, 2018 Best Comedy The Disaster Artist Nominated [68]
[69]
Florida Film Critics Circle December 23, 2017 Best Actor James Franco Nominated [70]
[71]
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Runner-up
Georgia Film Critics Association January 12, 2018 Best Picture The Disaster Artist Nominated [72]
Best Actor James Franco Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Won
Golden Globe Awards January 7, 2018 Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy The Disaster Artist Nominated [73]
Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy James Franco Won
Golden Tomato Awards January 3, 2018 Best Comedy Movie 2017 The Disaster Artist 3rd Place [74]
Gotham Awards November 27, 2017 Best Actor James Franco Won [75]
Hollywood Film Awards November 5, 2017 Hollywood Screenwriter Award Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Won [76]
Houston Film Critics Society January 6, 2018 Best Actor James Franco Won [77]
IGN Awards December 19, 2017 Best Comedy Movie The Disaster Artist Nominated [78]
Best Lead Performer in a Movie James Franco Nominated
Best Director James Franco Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards March 3, 2018 Best Male Lead James Franco Nominated [79]
IndieWire Critics Poll December 19, 2017 Best Actor James Franco 4th Place [80]
London Film Critics Circle January 28, 2018 Actor of the Year James Franco Nominated [81]
Los Angeles Film Critics Association January 12, 2018 Best Actor James Franco Runner-up [82]
National Board of Review January 9, 2018 Top Ten Films The Disaster Artist Won [83]
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Won
Online Film Critics Society December 28, 2017 Best Actor James Franco Nominated [84]
[85]
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Runner-up
San Diego Film Critics Society December 11, 2017 Best Actor James Franco Runner-up [86]
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Won
Best Comedic Performance James Franco Runner-up
San Francisco Film Critics Circle December 10, 2017 Best Actor James Franco Nominated [87]
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated
San Sebastián International Film Festival September 30, 2017 Golden Shell The Disaster Artist Won [88]
Feroz Zinemaldia Prize The Disaster Artist Won
Satellite Awards February 10, 2018 Best Actor James Franco Nominated [89]
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards January 21, 2018 Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role James Franco Nominated [90]
Seattle Film Critics Society December 18, 2017 Best Picture The Disaster Artist Nominated [91]
Best Actor James Franco Nominated
Best Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated
St. Louis Film Critics Association December 17, 2017 Best Actor James Franco Runner-up [92]
[93]
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Won
Best Scene Sixty-seven takes of "I did not hit her" Won
Toronto International Film Festival September 17, 2017 People's Choice Award, Midnight Madness The Disaster Artist 2nd Place [94]
USC Scripter Awards February 10, 2018 Best Screenplay Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell Nominated [95]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association December 8, 2017 Best Actor James Franco Nominated [96]
Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards February 11, 2018 Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated [97]

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