Rarely do you hear stories about directors being comfortable watching their own films. Often once they have locked the picture and the final sound mix, they're ready to let it go out into the world and move onto whatever the next project is. They may sit in on a premiere to take in the very first audience, but that's where their engagement lies. If it shows up on television a couple of years later, they will just keep changing the channel. Even someone like Steven Spielberg, who has been making movies for half a century, will still skip out on watching the movie to go take a nap instead, as Rachel Zegler revealed about the director on the Blank Check podcast regarding the Hollywood premiere of "West Side Story."
Some directors, though, require that audience feedback to feel satisfied with the film they have made. Usually this comes in the form of test screenings, where the film can still be molded and changed after showing it to people and seeing how they respond. Folks like Christopher McQuarrie have openly expressed their reliance on test screenings when it comes to big blockbuster entertainments like the "Mission: Impossible" films.
What is incredibly rare is for a director to constantly crave audience feedback after the film has been released, when the chance to alter elements of it has passed. However, this is vital for a director like S.S. Rajamouli, the man behind last year's international sensation "RRR." For someone working on such a grand scale looking to reach the widest possible audience, it isn't enough to just see the massive box office receipts. He needs to know that every beat of his film is not just affecting one select group of people but is able to work on a consistent basis.
Immediacy Takes Precedent Over Reflection
What matters most to S.S. Rajamouli is what happens within the confines of the four walls of a cinema. He makes movies that get people to cheer, laugh, cry, applaud, and even dance in the aisles. The emotions are big and primal, and not a second goes by that Rajamouli isn't trying to get the audience to have a similarly large reaction. These things can be enormously difficult for an audience to articulate once they exit the theater. The only way to know if he's getting the reactions he wants is to sit in with as many audiences as he possibly can, as he recently detailed to The New Yorker:
"For me, it is very important to understand how my audience members feel about my films. At the same time, I don't think many people can really express how they like or dislike the movie. The moment you put them in a position to judge your film, they lose that perception. The best way for me to judge my own films is to go to the theatre, sit with the audience, and feel how they're responding. I visit theatres showing my films sometimes ten, thirty, forty, or even a hundred times to get a sense of how the audience receives my films."
In the case of "RRR," Rajamouli has been able to do this not just in India but also around the world. Even in the United States, which has entirely different sensibilities than are found in India, he is still getting people to cheer, laugh, cry, applaud, and even dance in the aisles. If two different audiences are having the same reactions but are halfway around the world from each other, Rajamouli has obviously tapped into something special. That is a film to be proud of.
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The post RRR's Director Sometimes Visits Theaters '100 Times' To Find Out If His Films Are A Hit appeared first on /Film.