ABBA - The Movie - the details

Published August 09, 2010


In March 1977, 18 months after ABBA's spectacular breakthrough in Australia, they embarked on their first and - as it turned out - only concert tour "down under". As the tour was planned, the idea was put forward to produce a 16mm film documenting the event. The plan was that the results would be screened on television.

Eventually, and with strong encouragement from Reg Grundy Productions - one of the major producers of television entertainment in Australia - the project was turned into an extravagant Panavision film for cinema release. The film was directed by Lasse Hallström, who made ABBA's promo clips. Although he had long experience from television, ABBA - The Movie was in fact only his second cinema release.

The tour was certainly one of the most amazing and sensational episodes in the ABBA story, begging to be captured on film. The movie succeeded in mirroring the excitement, becoming a major commercial success and earning back its production costs simply on the distribution deals struck shortly before its world premiere in Australia in December 1977.


ABBA - The Movie was first released on VHS back in the 1980s. A DVD release had been on the cards for a number of years, but it took a while to put all the pieces together. Universal Music chose to start their DVD launch of ABBA with the video compilation The Definitive Collection, followed by ABBA Gold and then ABBA In Concert (you may read more about these productions elsewhere on this site). After several discussions and preliminary research, in the autumn of 2004, project coordinator Mia Segolsson at Universal Music in Stockholm, Sweden, finally got to grips with this release for real.

It turned out to be a fairly long journey towards completion. In order to protect the integrity of the music featured in the movie - film soundtracks usually run too fast on PAL system videos and television broadcasts - a complex digital transfer of the original negative had to be conceived. Added to this, the movie was also scanned in HD-DVD so as to have a master prepared when this superior format would become the standard. An additional reason was that the film should be available for screening in digital cinemas. The actual DVD release in 2005 was of course an "ordinary" DVD, although it was based on the original HD-DVD transfer. (Note: ABBA - The Movie was eventually released on HD-DVD and blu-ray in 2007, but shortly afterwards blu-ray came out the "victors" in the high definition wars, so the HD-DVD version is now a fairly irrelevant release.)

The original soundtrack of the movie also had to be mixed into 5.1. Fortunately, at the time of the original cinema release the soundtrack was prepared for four track sound systems in selected theatres, so there was already a good basis for such a mix to be made. The 5.1 mix was prepared by sound engineer Bernard Löhr under the supervision of Benny Andersson.


Naturally, there was also the intention to include some bonus material. After various suggestions back and forth Universal Music decided that they wanted an interview with Lasse Hallström to be the main number. If any of the former ABBA members wanted to contribute, that would obviously be even better. To cut a long story short, Lasse Hallström agreed to do the interview, and Benny and Björn also wanted to take part. It turned out that the only way to get these three gentlemen together in the same place was to conduct the interview in New York City in June 2005.

The good folks at Universal Music suggested that I should do the interview and I was more than happy to accept this offer. The intention was that it would not be so much a regular Q & A interview, but that my questions would trigger recollections and discussions between Lasse, Benny and Björn. To our great delight, this is exactly how it turned out. Although the interview was prefaced by the usual "oh, we don't remember anything" assertions, the chemistry between the three was great and they provided the perfect mix of factual anecdotes, reflections on the movie, the tour and the ABBA phenomenon. One or two events may have been remembered incorrectly, but I personally felt it was important to make this interview about their recollections and feelings. After all, they were the ones who were there at the time. I believe we were also helped by the decision to conduct the interview in Swedish. Although all three are proficient in English, we thought we would get a more relaxed atmosphere if they talked to each other in their native language. Naturally, the interview is subtitled on the DVD.

Other bonus features include a memorabilia gallery featuring vintage movie posters, magazine covers and other items related to the movie and the tour of Australia, plus a gallery of the original tour programme, where each and every page (except advertisements) is available for viewing. There is also an original theatrical trailer for ABBA - The Movie, as well as two original commercials for ABBA - The Album. One of those commercials - made for Epic Records in the UK - features an amusing tongue-in-cheek appearance by ABBA themselves. I had personally never seen this item before, nor had I ever heard of it, so hopefully others will find this rare item an interesting addition too.

Because of the information-heavy film master - which was a result of the HD-DVD scan as well as the various sound systems the viewer can choose from - it was decided that all bonus material would be featured on a special second disc, so as not to compromise the quality of the film. This second disc is only available as a limited edition release.


The package was designed by Fredrik Hurtig of In Fine Style, the designer of many ABBA-related releases since 2001. I wrote a 4,000 word essay about the making of the movie, which should hopefully provide a background of solid information when viewing both ABBA - The Movie and the interview with Lasse, Benny and Björn. The essay is presented in a 20-page full colour booklet, illustrated with pictures from the movie and the tour and also a few shots from the making of the film. As usual, my friend Ian Cole was there with important feedback and helpful suggestions throughout this part of the project.


ABBA - The Movie DVD. Released September 26, 2005. Catalogue numbers: Regular single disc: 987 170-0 PAL version, 987 170-3 NTSC version. Limited Special Edition: 987 169-9 PAL version, 987 170-2 NTSC version. Blu-ray released December 12, 2007. Catalogue number: 0602517471238.


Regular single disc

Limited Special Edition DVD (featuring bonus material)

Blu-ray (featuring bonus material)