What have we, what have we, what have we done to deserve this? This week, Pet Shop Boys are infiltrating more than 1,400 theaters across 50 countries worldwide, with Trafalgar Releasing giving the beloved British duo two-night-only event screenings — on Wednesday, Jan. 31 and Sunday, Feb. 4 — of their new concert film “Pet Shop Boys Dreamworld: The Hits Live.”
From White Light Film Productions, the documentary brings Pet Shop Boys’ ongoing global tour to fans far and wide, offering a comprehensive rendering of the duo’s performance at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen. Helmed by director David Barnard, a four-time filmmaking collaborator with Pet Shop Boys, “Dreamworld” is yet another visually dazzling, highly theatrical cinematic experience from vocalist Neil Tennant and keyboardist Chris Lowe, featuring costume changes, an elaborate set and throbbing, trippy visuals.
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“It’s a great crowd in Copenhagen!” supervising producer Andrew Winter tells Variety on selecting where on the tour to film. “The venue is vast and easy to position and maneuver cameras around, picking up not only the performance on stage, but also to get the audience reactions close-up and capture the real feel of being at the show.”
Realized by a team of 50 crew members across lighting and stage design, the Copenhagen performance was captured using 14 different 4K cameras. Unlike many high-profile concert films, “Dreamworld” was entirely filmed in just one evening, on July 7, 2023, instead of using footage from multiple events. It also gets the added flex of releasing with no cuts to the night’s setlist, offering Pet Shop Boys fans an uncompromised rendering of the concert.
“What you see on screen is a true representation of Pet Shop Boys’ Dreamworld performances and the production design by Pet Shop Boys’ creative director, Tom Scutt,” supervising producer Louise Brookes says. “It was really important to us to capture the essence of the show itself within the film.”
Since the rise of concert documentaries in the last decades of the 20th century, Pet Shop Boys have been one of the more proactive musical groups toward the format, filming their Performance tour stop in Birmingham in 1991 and making several more features over the following years. Even with that track record, “Dreamworld” represents a more fully realized technical fantasia — one that was designed to be experienced on the big screen. The documentary has been years in the works and faced delays due to the COVID pandemic, but it arrives now nicely timed to the 40th anniversary of the group’s breakout hit, the serene and disorienting “West End Girls.”
“We had discussed potentially filming a new show, but, of course, plans had to be put on hold until touring was able to resume,” Brookes says. “It feels quite serendipitous now, as Pet Shop Boys celebrate their 40th year of writing and performing.”
“Dreamworld” also arrives as enthusiasm around theatrically released concert films has achieved new heights with last fall’s release of “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” and “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé.” Trafalgar handled international distribution for both features, which collectively drew in $91 million from screenings outside of North America. With global phenoms like Pet Shop Boys, the company looks to keep that momentum rolling for concert docs.
“Much of the success and enthusiasm from those titles comes from the caliber of the artists themselves, as well as the distribution strategy to keep the films in the marketplace for several weeks,” says Trafalgar CEO Marc Allenby. “Those two powerhouse artists gave fans an unprecedented chance to experience their current tours alongside other fans – many of whom couldn’t access tickets otherwise – and eventized the moviegoing experience.”
Watch a clip from the “Dreamworld” concert film below.
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