ABBA: The Movie is a 1977 drama-documentary about ABBA's Australian tour. It was directed by Lasse Hallström, who directed most of the ABBA's music videos. The film has become a cult film among ABBA fans. Its release coincided with the release of ABBA: The Album, the group's fifth studio album, and features many songs from that album as well as many of their earlier hits, and one, Get on the Carousel, unavailable anywhere else.
The film concerns the adventures of Ashley Wallace (Robert Hughes), a naïve DJ on Radio 2TW, who normally presents a through-the-night country and western-themed show. In spite of this, he is sent by the station's boss (Bruce Barry) to get an in-depth interview ("Not an interview, a dialogue", demands his boss) with the group, which is to be aired on the day ABBA leave Australia. Ashley, who has never done an interview before, fails, mainly because he has forgotten to pack his press card, although the fact that he is unable to buy a concert ticket doesn't help matters. Armed with his trusty reel-to-reel tape recorder, Ashley is forced to follow the group all over Australia, beginning in Sydney, and then travelling, in order, to Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne, experiencing repeated run-ins with the group's very protective bodyguard (Tom Oliver), as well as his increasingly exasperated boss. Throughout the movie, we see Ashley interviewing members of the public, asking them if and why they like ABBA. Almost all the comments are positive, but he interviews a man who is driven mad by his ABBA-obsessed twelve-year-old, and another girl who thinks ABBA are over the top.
Eventually, Ashley has a lucky chance encounter with Stig Anderson, ABBA's manager, in the foyer of ABBA's hotel, who agrees to arrange an interview, and gives him tickets to that evening's concert. But Ashley sleeps in and misses the interview time. Just as Ashley has given up hope, he steps into an elevator and finds himself face-to-face with ABBA. They give him an interview there and then, and he leaves Melbourne just in time to meet the deadline for the radio show to go on-air. He puts together the final edit in the back of a taxi from the airport, as ABBA depart Australia for Europe. With only minutes to go, Ashley makes it back to the radio station where, having set the tape up on the studio's playback machine, he relaxes at his control desk to listen as the interview is broadcast.
- Benny Andersson as himself
- Björn Ulvaeus as himself
- Agnetha Fältskog as herself
- Anni-Frid Lyngstad as herself
- Stig Anderson as himself
- Richard Norton as himself, bodyguard and fitness trainer (uncredited)
- Robert Hughes as Ashley Wallace
- Bruce Barry as Radio station manager
- Tom Oliver as Bodyguard/Bartender/Taxi driver
- Money, Money, Money
- He Is Your Brother
- Intermezzo No. 1
- Mamma Mia
- Rock Me
- I've Been Waiting for You
- The Name of the Game
- Why Did It Have to Be Me?
- When I Kissed the Teacher
- Get on the Carousel
- I'm a Marionette
- Dancing Queen
- So Long
- Thank You for the Music
- The introductory bars of Hole in Your Soul are heard to accompany the opening credits, but the song itself does not feature anywhere in the film.
- A brief snatch of Knowing Me, Knowing You as well as Dum Dum Diddle is also heard while Ashley is stuck in a traffic jam; they are presumably coming from the radio of another car.
- Ring Ring is not performed by ABBA themselves in the film, but is sung by the members of a girls' ballet class Ashley speaks to for the interview while they are practicing their routines (ABBA's version can be heard in the background, which the children are singing along to).
- Other tracks heard in the film are Johan på Snippen and Polkan går, both Swedish traditional songs being played by Benny Andersson on piano accordion, and Stoned.
- The country and western track that is heard playing when we see Ashley in the radio studio at the start of the film is an early 1970s Björn & Benny song, Please Change Your Mind, performed by Nashville Train. This song was also recorded by this Swedish country band (several of the musicians are from ABBAs own studio band) and released on their ABBA Our Way in 1977.
Hallström indicated that the film's script and plot concept was "conceived on the plane on the way to Australia". Initially, 16 mm film was to be used but producers upgraded the project to 35 mm Panavision technology.
Mostly filmed in Australia some additional scenes were filmed in Sweden (but still set in Australia)—noticeably different from Australia.
Margaret Geddes of Australian newspaper The Age concluded that the film was "slick, competent and even for the non-convert entertaining."
ABBA: The Movie was first released in December 1977. The film was also presented in several Eastern Bloc nations, including the Soviet Union where it was screened at two movie houses in Moscow.
To date four releases of the film have been made: a single-disc DVD, a two-disc, special-edition DVD, a single-disc Blu-ray, and a now-defunct single-disc HD DVD. All releases above feature a restored print with bonus material. The initial DVD, including digital restoration, was released by SBS in Australia on 2 October 2005.
2008 theatrical re-release
A theatrical re-release of the film occurred across Europe during July and August 2008 (the same period as the ABBA-themed movie musical Mamma Mia! first hit American theaters) in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, and Austria.