Anvil, the Canadian heavy metal band that spent more than 30 years in near obscurity before the documentary about its struggles became a surprise hit, is getting the ultimate rock and roll salute this summer. AC/DC, arguably the most successful hard rock band in history, has personally selected Anvil as the sole support act for two arena shows — July 28 at Gillette Stadium in Boston and July 31 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey.
The stadium shows will mark a new chapter in Anvil’s late-blooming fame.
“Anvil: The Story Of Anvil,” the documentary directed by teenage roadie turned screenwriter Sacha Gervasi, made its debut at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and opened in theaters in New York and Los Angeles in March. The theatrical run has currently expanded to 27 cities and there are plans to double that number over the summer, with an estimated 150-200 total play dates on tap. The film has already grossed more than $550,000 at the box office in the United States alone, a huge success for an independently distributed documentary.
Since March, the band has played more than 30 concerts – dubbed the Anvil Experience – at sold-out film screenings across the country, including two gigs last week in Los Angeles and New York that saw hundreds of people turned away at the door.
Aside from AC/DC, Anvil has found a wellspring of support from fellow musicians who have fallen in love with the film. Chris Martin of Coldplay, who came to last week’s New York Anvil Experience and gave the band a standing ovation upon their return to the Bowery Hotel, has been a major advocate. In an interview published on Coldplay’s website, Martin calls the film “brilliant…wonderful,” and adds, “There’s a scene in it between the drummer and the singer which makes you cry, especially if you’re in a band and you know what it feels like to love another man so much, but also fight so much.”
Anvil next heads to the U.K. (where the film was the top-grossing rock documentary in the country’s history and was recently released on DVD) this weekend for a stage-headlining slot at the celebrated heavy metal Download Festival. The band is also booked for the Rocklahoma Festval in Oklahoma on July 9-12, where it will share the stage with groups like Ratt, Anthrax, Twisted Sister and dozens of others.
The film’s U.S. DVD release is now scheduled for the fall, at least three months later than originally planned due to the overwhelming response from moviegoers. VH1, which is releasing the DVD and has sponsored the Anvil Experience live shows, will give the film its broadcast debut on the network and a national Anvil Experience tour of major markets is planned for the week of the DVD release. A soundtrack and book deal are in the works, as well as the release of three newly-recorded Anvil tracks for the Rock Band video game. VH1 Records is also looking to give the band’s thirteenth album, “This Is Thirteen,” an official release at the end of August.
Internationally, the film screened at the Cannes Film Festival and will see theatrical distribution on all major territories throughout Europe, Asia, and even the Middle East. The movie opens in Australia in August and Japan in October. The band is expected to bring the Anvil Experience to as many of the countries as its schedule will allow.
In a tearful speech following last week’s New York screening, director Gervasi best summed up the band’s newfound recognition. “Anvil taught me something…never f–king give up, never surrender,” he said.
“I’m just so proud of this band,” he told the joyful crowd of supporters. “Will you please help me turn Anvil into f–king rock stars?”