Frontman, Joakim Brodén and bassist, Pär Sundström at Royal Air Force Museum London, UK

Sabaton frontman Joakim Brodén and bassist, Pär Sundström at Royal Air Force Museum London, UK

Author Arto Mäenpää - 12.12.2023

SABATON‘s recently concluded “History Rocks” museum charity project, which revolved around the global premiere of the heavy metal band’s animated film, “The War To End All Wars – The Movie”, was a resounding success according to participating museums.

Developed in partnership with Yarnhub Animation Studios, “The War To End All Wars – The Movie” weaves together the World War 1 stories behind SABATONs powerful songs on their most recent studio album, “The War To End All Wars”.

The “History Rocks” charity initiative was developed to raise awareness on the importance of history and encourage more people to visit and support their local museums. The aim of the band donating their film for this project was to boost the visibility of museums around the world and introduce them to a new and previously untapped audience made up of Sabaton’s huge fanbase, which comprises millions of metalheads and history buffs.

140 museums big and small spanning 30 countries participated in screenings from November 4-19, 2023. The film captivated audiences worldwide, sparking a resurgence of interest in historical narratives through the lens of heavy metal. According to feedback, the maximum number of screenings held by a museum over the two-week period (November 4-19) stood at 72, with some museums reporting up to 1,200 visitors in total who were visiting solely to watch the movie.

Following a successful collaboration with SABATON and the band’s “History Rocks” charity initiative, Nancy Bentley, curator and event coordinator, Hutchings Museum, Lehi (Utah, USA), enthusiastically shared: “This was one of the most exciting projects we’ve ever participated in. We were excited about it but couldn’t have anticipated how it exceeded expectations! The energy simply buzzed at the museum in anticipation, during and after the screening.”

Riding a similar wave of enthusiasm, Rob Phillimore, marketing manager, Bodmin Keep (Cornwall, UK), expressed the tangible impact of the project, stating: “Screening the Sabaton movie gave our visitor numbers a huge boost. We only have a small screening room, but each screening we held was sold out!”

Ian Flint, CEO, Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome (Essex, UK), echoed the sentiment, emphasising the profound connection fostered by the project: “It was wonderful to see the metal and museum communities merge through our shared appreciation of history. By understanding it, by making it relative, we can learn from it. Sabaton has taken a huge step forward in making our history relative and real to millions of fans worldwide, and we’re hugely grateful to them for the History Rocks project.

Eager to play an active part of this experience, band members attended some hand-selected screenings across Europe to witness the premiere, engage with their fans and hold Q&A and signing sessions.

Meanwhile, a handful of war veterans attended some of these screenings, adding a poignant layer to the emotional impact of the film.

Pär Sundström stated:

“I am incredibly happy to see the overwhelming turnout for the screenings of “The War To End All Wars – The Movie”. It’s heartening to witness the dedication of fans who travelled significant distances to attend these events. The response and the experience have been amazing, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to share this historical journey with our fans.”

He added: “This project honestly went better than we could have even imagined. The feedback we received both during and after the event was incredible, and the fact that we’ve actually made a difference to the museums with the “History Rocks” project means everything to us. Mission accomplished.”

The media coverage surrounding the “History Rocks” project has been nothing short of extraordinary, creating a buzz in various outlets worldwide. The story was picked up by the likes of Metal Hammer UK and Rolling Stone France to name a few, plus various other non-music-related publications and outlets such as Associated Press in the UK, Movieweb and Yahoo News, among many others.

SABATON’s dedication to making history accessible has also caught the attention of educational institutions, some of which have expressed keen interest in utilising the movie as an educational tool.

Highlighting the potential of “The War To End All Wars – The Movie” as an effective educational resource for people of all ages was Diane Stephen, manager, Heugh Battery Museum (Hartlepool, the UK), who said: “I think the film is an excellent resource and source of information. Apart from the value it has for adult audiences, we feel that students and pupils of teenage years would get a lot from screenings of this film and it would create a lot of discussion. It is an excellent way to show those studying WW1 at this level in the UK how the war was not simply a trench war in France where the British and Germans fought – which can be the line which is most closely delivered to those being introduced to the topic. We feel the film clearly shows it was a World War with many nations involved, which was fought on many fronts, including the sea and air.”

Meanwhile, Petar Stefanov, head of the guide department, National Museum of History (Sofia, Bulgaria), explained that during the museum’s organised screenings, many student groups led by teachers visited. “They watched the movie and asked us when the next project is so they can bring their students as a learning activity outside the school,” he said.

Emphasising the initiative’s overall success, 100% of museum respondents in a post-event survey stated that they would be open to future collaborations with SABATON on projects of a similar nature.

As for the future of “The War To End All Wars – The Movie”, the band is exploring ways to present the film to a wider audience, with plans yet to be finalised.