The highly controversial Songbird movie released this week, and so far, reviews seem to focus mostly on a perception of “romanticizing the pandemic.” But the filmmakers are not daunted, claiming that the film instead is making Hollywood history.
“We were the first,” director and co-writer Adam Mason told Forbes. “I’d been working on a movie for Blumhouse, and then we got shut down after five days of pre-production. I went home, very despondent and scared as I think most people were in the industry at that time, just wondering what the hell was going on. The next morning, the first day of the official stay at home measures in LA, my writing partner, Simon Boyes, called me up. He pitched me the idea that we should use this time, this collective experience, to make a movie on our iPhones and laptops, and use technology to put together some kind of story.”
— Albert Evangelista (@aarree) December 10, 2020
From there, the two wrote what was originally a Cloverfield-type monster movie that evolved into more of a Romeo and Juliet story during the apocalypse. The screenplay caught the attention of former Paramount production chief Adam Goodman, and two weeks later, Michael Bay. “…Suddenly all of these other people got involved. It became a real proposition, a real movie,” Mason continued.
“This movie is so in extremely poor taste & I can’t even believe that this movie is coming out when cases are skyrocketing, hospitalizations are going back up & after so many people lost their lives to this virus,” one person tweeted back in October. “This is so very disgusting, very disrespectful & very insensitive!!”
It’s way too soon to enjoy a movie about Covid, but #SongbirdMovie is just bad.
Nothing more than a footnote as the first Hollywood production amid the pandemic; the plot is flat, the shockingly stacked cast is misused, and the visuals are ugly.
— Alex DiVincenzo (@alexislegend) December 10, 2020
Critic reviews and scores have reflected the same sentiments, with the movie currently showing an embarrassing Metacritic score of 30.
“Adam Mason’s Songbird is about boring people getting mad that they’re stuck inside, and the government is oppressing them, and they’ll soon fly free or whatever,” writes Blake Goble of Consequence of Sound.
And IndieWire’s David Erlich had similar thoughts. “For all of its gimmicky appeal, Songbird is bad enough that your entire neighborhood will be able to smell it streaming onto your TV, and it gets worse faster than your nose can adjust to the stench.” Ouch.
But despite the pages and pages of bad reviews and angry tweets, co-creators Mason and Boyles are still optimistic. “It’s a world that we created that I would like to revisit, but it wasn’t like we were having lots of conversations about franchises because, frankly, we had our hands full just trying to get the movie finished […] So, no, we weren’t thinking about a franchise or sequels or any of those things, although I do think that we built a world and characters that would be fitting for more stories.”
Songbird is currently available as a video-on-demand through major streaming sites like Amazon Prime, FandangoNOW, iTunes, Redbox, Vudu, and more.