'ABBA The Movie' was released in Australian cinemas in December 1977 !
After preview screenings in Sweden in early December, the Australian Premiere of ABBA The Movie was held on 14 December 1977 at Hoyts Regent Theatre in George Street, Sydney.
The general release of the movie in cinemas around Australia commenced on 15 December 1977.
No ABBA members attended the Australian Premiere - except for Stig Anderson.
My original movie film reels from Hoyts Regent Theatre in Sydney - such a rarity to have survived ! This is the cinema where I saw the movie :)
It played in cinemas in all major cities, including Hoyts Regent and Astra Theatre in Sydney, the Palace Theatre in Melbourne, the Center Cinema in Canberra, and cinemas in other Australian cities.
ABBA: The Movie is a 1977 film about ABBA's Australian tour. It was directed by Lasse Hallström, who directed most of the group's videos. Its release coincided with the release of ABBA: The Album, the group's fifth studio album, and features many songs from that album as well as many of their earlier hits.
The film's director Lasse Hallström said of this movie in 2002, that it had a screenplay that was "conceived on the plane on the way to Australia, about a disc jockey trying to get an in-depth interview with ABBA. It started out as a 16mm project and ended up being in 35mm wide-screen Panavision."
This film was originally intended to be a home movie, then a television special, then a documentary. It's final form was rockumentary concert movie.
It was the involvement of Reg Grundy Productions that turned this little documentary into a feature movie with his company providing all filming equipment.
Cast and crew:
Originally, there were to be no actors in this film - and ABBA themselves were unaware for majority of the Australian Tour that Robert Hughes and Tom Oliver were actors. Quite amusing when you think about it - especially Tom Oliver, who plays one of their bodyguards !
There are interviews with Tom Oliver and Robert Hughes about the movie by Australian fan & journalist Cotton Ward at the following links:
Tom Oliver Interview
Robert Hughes Interview
Pix/People magazine interview with Tom Oliver from 17 November 1977:
ABBA movie out soon! Australian actor co-stars! ABBA girls ‘seduce’ Australian actor in riotous new film.
The new movie starring Swedish pop group ABBA is “a riot’, according to Australian actor Tom Oliver, who plays a leading part. Tom, who has just returned from Sweden, where the final scenes were shot, says: “It is all a riot, a ball – no set script, but great spontaneous fun.”
Some of the “fun” in this full-length feature film may raise a few eyebrows when it opens in Australia next month.
It is a comedy about an Australian disc jockey’s attempts to get an exclusive interview with the Swedish pop stars. He ends up being seduced by Agnetha and Anni-Frid, although the film makers insist “this is depicted in a manner in keeping with the film’s character - entertainment for the entire family”.
Tom Oliver plays ABBA’s bodyguard, among other things. The stars’ real Australian bodyguards, Bob Jones and Richard Norton, also appear in the film, but have “silent” roles.
“I not only play the bodyguard,” adds Tom, “but also a very gay butler, an ocker taxi driver, a golf caddie, and a dirty old barman in a wild west saloon (with a chicken under my arm).”
The part of the disc jockey is taken by Sydney actor Robert Hughes, who appears on The Dick Emery Show. The director is a young Swede, Lasse Hallström, who has been called the “new Ingmar Bergman”.
ABBA’s company funded 75 percent of what must have been an enormously expensive production, and Australian company Reg Grundy Productions has a 25 percent interest.
The film includes scenes from ABBA’s tour of Australia earlier this year, including concert appearances, backstage scenes, and press conferences. The footage of their Australian tour was shot secretly.
“At the Sydney press conference,” says Tom, “a lot of journalists thought I was moonlighting by working as a bodyguard for ABBA, but in fact I was playing a role in the film.”
The movie, which is still untitled, shows the group at picnics in beautiful outdoor settings, playing poker in smoke-filled backrooms, and relaxing aboard their boat.
In his dreams, Robert Hughes, playing the disc jockey, is the only media personality to get aboard the boat. Another time he dreams he is sharing their picnic, with Agnetha and Frida tempting him with berries and wine.
Robert wasn’t the only member of the cast to be taken with the charm of the ABBA women, Tom Oliver, who has had prominent roles in Number 96 and Bellbird, enthuses: “Anna and Frida are beautiful. I find Swedish girls very charming - very conservative, but so hospitable.
“European women seem to combine sophistication with femininity and individualism. They are women with a capital ‘W’. Maybe the considerate way men treat them has something to do with it.
“Australian men haven’t learnt how to treat their women properly,” says English-born Tom.
ABBA will remain in Sweden until early next year when they plan to visit the United States. Their records are also selling well in America.
Most of the concert footage used for this film came from their five Perth concerts in Western Australia. This was because the concert venue there, the Perth Entertainment Centre, was the only indoors stadium on the tour, and the conditions there were best suited for acoustic recording and would not be affected by any bad weather elements. Shooting was done at every leg of the Australian tour though, and included all their concerts in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
The Sydney scenes are quite obvious with the rain and umbrellas ! (the concert I attended)
Additional filming for this movie was done during Summer 1977 in ABBA's home country of Sweden after their 1977 concert tour of Australia had been completed. This filming included 'The Name Of The Game' dream sequence and filming on streets in Sweden, doubling for the Melbourne and Sydney streets. Actors Tom Oliver and Robert Hughes had to fly to Sweden for this shoot.
Agnetha was quite noticeably pregnant during the filming in Sweden so had to be shown from the right angles and wearing appropriate clothing to disguise this fact.
It didn't stop them from making her climb a ladder to film the elevator scene for 'Eagle' !
No workplace health and safety issues in the 70's !
Around the time of this film's theatrical release, Stig Anderson once said of ABBA's enormous popularity in Australia: "Australia is still the biggest market in the world for ABBA. People in the music industry all over the world have been stunned with what has happened here."
Though predominantly filmed in Australia, this movie was never released on home video-cassette (VHS or Beta) during the 1980s and 1990s in Australia. Quite bizarre !
In 2003, The Swedish Film Institute restored the film to its original soundtrack after the original stereo sound had been lost for years. The film was premiered in its new version on 2 December 2003, at Stockholm's Film House with Benny Andersson attending.
The DVD was released worldwide in 2005 as a 2 DVD Special Edition which includes behind the scenes footage plus some previously unseen concert footage.
This movie is the only record of ABBA's astonishing and wonderful 1977 Tour - and I love that it centres around the Australian leg of the Tour - we are very lucky in that regard :)
The Live concert footage is just brilliant - and takes me back to 1977 every time I watch the movie.
Some other releases for ABBA The Movie on VHS, Laser Disc and CED Video Disc. I have never understood the use of the 1979 Tour image on these - strange indeed:
Some fabulous ABBA The Movie posters & lobby cards from around the world:
|Australian Lobby Cards|