Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tell Me More, Tell Me More

In search of hopeless devotees, old and new, Paramount Pictures recently released a sing-along version of the hit 1978 hit musical, Grease.

It seems like a great idea – so good, in fact, it begs the question: why has it taken 32 years? Sing-along versions of movie musicals are hardly new – Sound of Music is a perennial favorite, along with Hairspray and the cult classic, Rocky Horror Picture Show. Grease comes ready-made with the perfect soundtrack for amateur warblers. Songs like You’re the One that I Want, Grease Lightening, Summer Lovin’ and Hopelessly Devoted to You have long been staples of shower stalls and karaoke bars. Anyone who spent even part of the late seventies and early eighties within earshot of a radio is likely to know a good portion of the Grease song-sheet by heart. The catchy, uncomplicated lyrics combined with unforgettable melodies to make the long-running Broadway smash an instant and enduring movie classic.

Paramount has released the sing-along version in a handful of theaters (it’s a sell-out everywhere, including in John Travolta’s home town of Oscala, Florida). The modest roll-out comes accompanied by a PR campaign to inspire fans on a much larger scale.

The movie, set in 1959 and released in 1978, has truly reached all the way to 2010. There’s a Twitter and Facebook campaign aimed at directing grassroots pressure directly on theaters to bring the show to town. It’s an interesting approach – invest in a low-cost, limited release and wait for the drumbeat of viewer enthusiasm to do the rest. It’s a good bet that, in the sizzling hot US summer of 2010, a joyful (and air-conditioned) nostalgia trip will hit all the right notes.