'The Room': On the scene at the sold-out Ziegfeld Theatre screening of Tommy Wiseau's masterpiece

the-roomAh, the Ziegfeld Theatre. The refined, legendary movie house in New York City has played host to hundreds of A-list affairs since its 1969 opening, premiering hundreds of critically-lauded, star-studded films. (Oh, hi Steven Spielberg, Julia Roberts, and Daniel Radcliffe!)

Last night was a different story. After spending months showing Tommy Wiseau’s cult film The Room at New York’s dingy Village East Cinema on the last Friday of every month, Saturation Films — the folks who stage the screenings — decided to class things up a bit by relocating this month’s midnight screening of “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” to the Ziegfeld. And though, like many of the theatre’s A-list premieres, the screening was completely sold-out — yes, 1,200 people, including Mac guy Justin Long, bought tickets — the scene outside the theatre was far from glitzy. Which, of course, is kind of perfect. Instead of a red carpet, there was a seemingly never-ending line of fans who so anticipated the event, they showed up to nab a spot as early as 8:45 p.m. (I arrived at about 8:50, and still somehow ended up being the 22nd person in line.) Instead of paparazzi, there were 1,200 cult followers snapping so many photos, it would be easy to accept that love is blind because, well, we all nearly went blind. And instead of a limo, the film’s two stars in attendance — Greg Sestero and Wiseau himself — stepped nonchalantly out of a yellow cab on 54th Street. And what followed was absolute mayhem.

While Sestero hung back, quietly signing autographs and taking pictures with fans, Wiseau — wearing a suit and those trademark sunglasses — was immediately bombarded with requests to pose in photos with football-wielding fans dressed in his likeness, and to sign shirts that read “I heart Tommy Wiseau.” And a warning to attractive girls everywhere: Wiseau will kiss you if you ask, as one (lucky?) girl discovered. In fact, during the half hour that Wiseau rubbed elbows with fans outside the theatre, he was constantly surrounded by a mob worthy of Rob Pattinson, which made unknowing passersby curiously ask folks in line, “Who is that?” And though they were ultimately disappointed to discover the man in question was just some dude who made a crappy movie — some dude?! all of us Room fans scoff — the folks in line were as excited as Denny during a pillow fight. (One fan in front of me was wheezing from pure elation after meeting Wiseau, saying, “Oh my god, that was the best thing that ever happened to me!”)

And the atomic bomb of excitement really seemed to go off once fans entered the theatre. About 15 minutes after the film was supposed to begin rolling at midnight, Wiseau and Sestero stepped in front of the sold-out room (and Johnny thought three was a crowd?!) and agreed to take ten — but only ten — questions. (First, however, Wiseau took the time to throw shirts over his shoulder like a wedding bouquet into the crowd, and sing “Hoppy Berthdey” — and gifted two single roses — to two celebrating fans.) Unfortunately, we Room die-hards didn’t discover much during the question and answer session, yet it still managed to be the most hysterical 7-10 minutes of my life. The things we did learn: Wiseau really enjoyed filming those love scenes with Juliette Danielle (“I loved it. I wanted more.”), the disappearing Peter (Kyle Vogt) apparently ended up “at a hospital in Guerrero Street,” and if Wiseau is not sure how to respond to a question, he’ll answer with the combination of the phrases “Well, I don’t know what that is,” “I like what you say,” and “Next question!” One thing that will remain a mystery to Room fans everywhere: What Wiseau kept in his cargo pants pockets while filming The Room. (Wiseau feels some things should be kept “secret.” One fan suspected jellybeans. I’ll choose to believe he stows mini footballs in there.)

After the Q&A with Wiseau and Sestero, the former decided to walk up and down the aisles of the theatre to greet fans and play catch, all while continuing to keep a microphone up to his mouth so we could hear every “Hiii” and “How are you?” he bestowed onto the rowdy fans. And once Wiseau was out of sight and the film began, it was business as usual — plenty of vocal Denny greetings, shushes at the flower shop scene, and so much spoon throwing, I left with a headache in no way related to the libations I downed prior to the show. (Best reason to get a headache ever though, right?)

Unfortunately, the Ziegfeld screening seems to be a one-time only event, as Saturation Films said they’ll be returning to Village East next month — for the time being. As we know, it is Wiseau’s dream to screen the film at the 20,000 capacity Staples Center, or the 50,000+ capacity Yankee Stadium. And I don’t know about you, fellow Room fans, but if either happens, you can count me in — because we all like to watch.

So, New York-area PopWatchers, were you there? And as for those non-New York-area PopWatchers, what would you have asked Tommy? Don’t keep your stupid comments in your pocket — let us know in the comment section below!

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  • lindsay

    i quote this movie on a daily basis, but alas, in my rural area i’ve only been able to watch the movie at home. i would totally attend a staples center viewing.

    • ugh

      it’s bullshit i did not hit her, i did nahht…oh hi, mark!

  • amie

    I wish I could have been there. It is tearing me aaapppaarrrt! Oh hi!

  • nathan

    He came to Indiana University a few months ago. One of the most bizarre experiences of my life. The Q&A was amazing!

  • brad10

    Poor idiot, I wonder if he knows that people are laughing at him, not with him.. then again, idiots are flocking to see this train wreck and are making him rich in the process.. so yeah, the whole thing is a joke, and not a funny one

    • Riemer1

      I think you miss the point here pal. We all love Tommy and we thank him for making this movie. It’s a movie that brings people together to have a good time – how many movies out there can say they do that? It’s not just going to a movie to see “Avatar” and be blown away by special effects, no, its about going to a movie and having a real human experience – you will never see another movie (besides Rocky Horror) that will illicit such fan response and admiration. So no, we are not the idiots – you sir are the idiot for not realizing that this movie is so much more than just a “bad movie” to us fans. Go watch your Oscar movies, we don’t need some self righteous blow hard telling us what is good and what is not.

    • Drew

      Poor you, for your informatiion Tommy Wiseau is the best
      director in the world, and just just a little embey about
      Tommy’s creations.

  • Aaron

    It somehow escaped this journalist, but Mike “Me Underwears” Holmes was also in attendence, obligingly making the “BJ face” for adoring fans.

    • Ceballos

      Well, you know…chocolate is the symbol of love.

  • Alegna

    Mark don’t be such a chicken…Cheep Cheep….Cheep Cheep!

  • Joy

    My birthday took me on a surprise birthday trip from Nova Scotia to New York, the centerpiece of which was to be the midnight screening of The Room…..alas, the theater would not let us purchase tickets online and by the time we got there, it was sold out. I spent the night before my birthday sitting on a curb sadly holding a plastic spoon. Oh Hi, disappointment!

    • Joy

      *My boyfriend took me on a trip, not my birthday. *cheep cheep cheep!*

  • Madd

    I was there! I was dragged to it by my husband, and it was actually my first time seeing it.

    • Ceballos


      (Personally, I was mostly stunned the first time I saw it at home…It wasn’t until viewings 3-5 that I truly appreciated the anti-genius of this thing.)

      • Madd

        I’m still in shock. My husband was SO excited that Tommy said hi to him and I was like, “Really Joe? He is sooo creepy!”
        To which I was then told: “You don’t get it yet. He’s like the exact opposite of Orson Welles.”

      • Ceballos

        That’s terrific…I can even sort of imagine how it went down:

        “Oh, hi Joe!”

      • Ceballos

        …by the way, I get the idea that he’s creepy just watching him on my DVD…I imagine he’s (at the very least) 20 times creepier in person.

  • Nick T

    I believe he came here to Chicago at the Music Box before. I know they play that as a Midnight movie at least once a month.

  • S

    I have yet to see The Room. (The first time I ever heard about it was the article a few years back in EW) but I actually met Tommy at Central Park today. He seemed kinda full of it and totally creeptastic.

  • Jay

    Unfortunately, I was not able to attend last night’s midnight showing of “The Room” in NYC since I live in the Boston area, but I wish I had. I grew up in Westchester County and have many fond memories of seeing several movies at the Ziegfeld Theater, arguably the last great movie palace in the country and the perfect place for a cult favorite like this one, as a kid.

  • Major

    You’re my favorite customer. I’m so jealous I don’t live in New York. Though I’m spreading the word to everyone where I live. It’s amazing how many don’t know about this yet.

  • Ceballos

    Here’s my question: WHAT KIND OF DRUGS WERE THEY?!

    (That’s a trick question because, “It doesn’t matter!”)

  • Catlin

    Dang!!! I cant believe this is on the front page of EW. I saw a screeing of this in San Francisco and met Sestero. Fun time, sure the movie is bad but thats all part of the fun.

  • Red

    Never even heard of this film till I saw the director/star on FNC’s “Red Eye,” which wholeheartedly embraced his combination of sincerity and bizarreness.

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