Audience Participation In FOX's 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' Salutes A Midnight Movie Tradition
FOX's re-imagined Rocky Horror Picture Show premiered on Thursday night and fans of the original 1975 cult classic film will notice one major difference. No, I'm not talking about the cast or the sets — even though those are certainly different — but the audience-within-the-movie. FOX's Rocky Horror Picture Show has its own audience participation, inspired by the midnight screening tradition that the film has developed over the past 40 years. The original Rocky Horror Picture Show has run in theaters longer than any other film in history, according to a FOX press release, and all of those screenings were unique in their participation.
Kenny Ortega, who directed the FOX version, told Variety that the audience is an important part of the re-imagined film. "We wanted to make the fan relationship a part of the telling of this story. So we brought them in as a character," he said. "We’ve come at it with an appreciation for what it is and what it’s meant to everyone over the years. We’re really trying to honor that."
OK, so how does this whole meta-audience thing work? At the beginning of the FOX version of the movie, an usher (Ivy Levan) sings the opening song "Science Fiction/Double Feature" as fans take their seats in an old-timey theater, which is playing the very movie that the TV viewing audience is watching, too. Trippy, right? At-home viewers are essentially watching the meta-audience watch Rocky Horror. That's not all, either.
Throughout the movie, at-home viewers see the movie from the meta-audience react to the movie screen by yelling back to the screen at key moments and holding up their phones as lights, for example. That meta-audience is following another script — the one that has developed over the years at midnight screenings of the original flick.
Image: Steve Wilkie/FOX