Distrib interest hot in ‘ABBA’, Swede pop act’s musical

Polar Film and Music Productions and AB Svenk Film (SF) had close associates and friends in for a first showing of a rough cut with only a non-stereophonic guide soundtrack of their feature musical ABBA-The Movie at the Film Institute’s Victor Sjoostroem Theatre here.

Chris Kuhn of SF will handle most foreign sales of this full-length musical by one of the world’s top pop acts. In Australia, however, film’s co-producer (25%), Reg Grundy will distribute ABBA-The Movie throughout the Far East after its world preem in Sydney in mid-December. Other territories are lining up in front of SF’s door.

The Netherland’s City Film has signed for 12 prints for saturation preems at Christmas. Janus Film of Munich – Frankfurt and Filmedis of Paris are waiting for the postponed (until mid-March 1978) release of ABBA’s next LP before they release the film. But Kommunernes Filmcenter in Norway, Nordisk Filmkompagni in Denmark and Adams Film in Finland all have scheduled Christmas openings.

Kuhn is negotiating with EMI’s Lord Delfont and with Hemdale’s John Daly. Both companies are interested in distribution rights for the UK and the US.

Although the film has several sequences showing ABBA in jocular moods offstage, members Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson have already put out a firm disclaimer as to being actors.

And film’s writer-director Lasse Hallström, who shot 50 hours of film during ABBA’s Australian tour last year, says: “The four are seen and caught as themselves, performing their act and acting only as their private selves. We do not have a quartet of freshly minted actors on our hands like Dick Lester did when he made A Hard Day’s Night with The Beatles.”

Much footage is Panavision-immortalized ABBA-on-stage performances of group’s best-loved hits. In a long dream sequence, where the tables are turned and the disk-jockey is being courted by ABBA, four new ABBA songs, penned by Björn and Benny with some lyrics assisted by manager Stikkan Anderson are introduced. Titles: Thank You For The Music, The Name Of The Game, I’m A Marrionette and I Wonder (Departure).

A fifth new song Eagle, is introduced in the film in an ambitious scene of surrealism with ABBA rushing up and down in an elevator with an open front side while singing. Director Hallström is no newcomer to the film medium. He occasionally takes leaves from his regular job as producer of entertainment programs at Sweden’s State TV, to do film.

His former feature, A Guy And A Gal, also an SF release, was Sweden’s top grosser (11 million kroner) for 1975.

Hallström wrote the ABBA-The Movie script with Australian Bob Caswell and nary a word of Swedish is spoken in the film. Jack Churchill has shared cinematographers’ honors with Peter Appleton, and Lasse Hallström will spend the next month editing with his wife Malou Hallström and Ulf Neidemar. Transcribed for ABBA World

Variety (New York) · Wednesday, 28 September 1977 (Pages 37 & 43)

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