Two teenage twins from a small town in north-central Norway have been making and breaking records since they started singing and dancing as children. Everything Marcus and Martinus Gunnarsen do seems to turn to gold, with even a documentary about them now pulling in record crowds.
The scene outside Oslo’s large Colosseum cinema complex last weekend was typical. Long lines of mostly young girls stood shivering in the late afternoon twilight, hoping to catch a glimpse of their heroes at the premiere of their new documentary Sammen mot drømmen (literally, “Together towards the dream”). Marcus and Martinus showed up, the girls started screaming and the boys jumped around on a stage set up over the entrance before everyone lucky enough to snare tickets trooped in see the new film.
Within a few days, the numbers were official: The twins not only had managed to star in a film that premiered in Norway and Sweden at the same time, they broke all audience records to date for a documentary. A total of 75,970 people bought tickets in the opening weekend, triple last year’s documentary success about Norway’s popular elderly healer Mannen fra Snåsa. The film also won rave reviews, and not just from their young fans. It was mostly made with them in mind, but even jaded critics lauded the film for its “fly-on-the-wall” insight into the lives of two young stars, complete with “charming” home video from their childhood, state-of-the-art concert coverage and drone photos.
Marcus and Martinus Gunnarsen, who still return home to Trofors for school and their “normal” life, “are a pop success we’ve never seen the likes of before,” wrote newspaper Dagsavisen last week, as the new documentary packed cinemas around Norway and Sweden and was ready to debut in Denmark and Finland later this week. It’s just the latest in a long list of other successes, after Marcus and Martinus topped YouTube’s list of the most-watched music videos in Norway last year (Girls, with Madcon, which was viewed 23,678,629 times), sold out the large Oslo Spektrum arena twice in the space of a few hours and now gear for two more sold-out concerts at Stockholm’s Globe this winter. They also released a book (Vår historie, Our story) last fall that topped best-seller lists for biographies and landed under many Christmas trees.
“It’s kind of strange they (their fans) do all this for us, we’re just two ordinary boys,” Marcus and Martinus say, almost in unison, early in the film. The twins are so identical that even those working with them and following them closely have a hard time knowing who’s who.
Their story began when they won Melodi Grand Prix Jr, the youth version of Norway’s Eurovision Song Contest preliminary, in 2012. They were only 10 years old and their song To dråper vann (Two drops of water) hit VG’s top pop list in Norway. They then did the normal round of summer- and Christmas concerts but it didn’t stop there. More singles were released, they were invited to perform at music festivals and on national TV shows, and two young stars were born.
The new documentary shows the boys doing their homework in the offices of Sony Music Norway while their father Kjell-Erik, a school teacher who’s almost with them, negotiates a major record deal. They’re shown wandering into an empty Spektrum Arena and clearly amazed they sold it out, then at home and at school back in Trofors. When interviewed in connection with the release of their book, the now-14-year-old twins said they most missed traditional Friday night taco dinners at home with their family when they’re out on concert- or other promotional tours.
Life isn’t always fun, like when a book-signing at a large Oslo-area shopping center went on for hours and hours. They also quarrel, but soon return to their almost abnormal hyper-enthusiasm. For them, it is normal. They are two very perky kids.
And there may be lots more traveling. The film and book projects are seen as a prelude to international exposure and the boys are working hard on perfecting their English. Their dream now is a concert at Madison Square Garden in New York, where another Norwegian, Mats Zuccarello, is already doing quite well there, playing ice hockey.