Sunday, 2 May 2010

Televizier, December 1977: ABBA in the cinema

When you are Sweden’s most important export article, make millions on every single you release, buy complete companies and blocks of real estate, and you are able to ignore the immense American market, simply because you don’t need it, then you are able to make a movie as well. That’s exactly what ABBA did, in between proceedings. This week, ‘ABBA – The Movie’ will have its premiere. There will probably be a run on tickets.

“What’s the name of the game, ABBA?” Money, that’s the name. A popular joke in Sweden goes like this: “ABBA is money, but only spelled differently.” Envy? Without doubt. But above all, admiration for the wizard Stig Anderson, president-director of Polar Music International AB, the mastermind behind the empire when it comes to business. Within three years, he has turned two boys and two girls, who endeared the world with ‘Waterloo’, into Sweden’s biggest export article. Music is the basis, it still is, but the millions, that ABBA’s black gold has brought in, are continuously invested in very diverse projects and all kinds of companies.
Anderson’s secret is, in his own words, very simple. A combination of courage, self-confidence and craftsmanship. Like no other in the music industry, the man with the longest moustache in Scandinavia has managed to break through the monopoly position of the record companies by simply keeping everything under one umbrella: production, contracts and distribution. He uses the record industry to his own wishes and on his own conditions, based on an unprecedented success. By doing that, the major part of the mountain of gold is flooding back to ABBA and achieves a height of which even groups like the Beatles and the Stones can only dream.
And this has its advantages. Not only where money is concerned, but in life as well. Agnetha and Björn have children with whom they want to spend as much time as possible. Worldwide tours that go on for months don’t fit in that picture. And they don’t have to. When ‘The Name Of The Game’ is released, ABBA makes one promotional film that is distributed all over the world, to our own TopPop as well. Because the times when director Popma could ask the group to come over for recordings in his own TopPop scenery, have long gone. Take America for instance. ABBA is big in Scandinavia, Western Europe and especially Australia. But in the United States ABBA has achieved gold status a couple of times as well. Despite the fact that the lovely quartet has never appeared live over there. America is waiting for ABBA, craving for ABBA. But the Swedish gods and goddesses don’t have the time and (for the time being) the desire. Stig Anderson keeps the cows in the meadow on a tight string, because they are producing more than enough milk. Only when he himself – and no one else – feels that ABBA is completely ready for America, he will strike. “And then success will be guaranteed,” he has stated already.

According to the same intricate concept, ‘ABBA – The Movie’ has come into being, that will have its world premiere on Saturday December 17 at the City theatre in Amsterdam. How does something like this work with mister Anderson? Firstly: ABBA doesn’t give interviews. Too time-consuming, not necessary either, you simply distribute a newspaper under the name ABBA News that provides all the information. Enough to keep the copywriters occupied. No interviews, hey, that’s an idea. We will make a movie wherein a desperate journalist tries to get an interview with ABBA, something at which he just can’t succeed. Only in his dreams, wherein the sweet Agnetha and the beautiful Anni-Frid even fall in love with him as well. And that’s the dream of every journalist, isn’t it?
Illustrate this sublime script with a substantial dose of musical ABBA successes and there you go, a movie. Filmed in Australia while being on tour, so that was convenient as well. So don’t expect a super movie with illustrious character roles, exciting pursuits and a thundering finale. ‘The Movie’ is aimed at the whole family, provided that everyone loves ABBA. A lot of live music on different stages with a very enthusiastic audience at every venue and a little storyline with a small trace of a dream love to turn it into a movie. With a variation on the familiar advertisement slogan, it can be said: “ABBA, good for you”. And good for Sweden as well, because the box-office results of this new export article (followed in January by the new album ‘The Album’) are expected to reach astronomic heights again.

1 comment:

Danny said...

great post! Very interesting!