54 is a 1998 American drama film written and directed by Mark Christopher, about Studio 54, a world-famous New York City discotheque, the main setting of the film. It stars Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek, Neve Campbell, and Mike Myers as Steve Rubell, the club's co-founder. Prior to its release in 1998, the film was extensively reshot and recut, and then released to poor critical reaction, but somewhat respectable box office. In 2008, a bootleg version of the director's cut was screened at Outfest, leading to interest for its release. In 2015, Christopher and Miramax premiered a new edit of the film at the Berlin International Film Festival, with 45 minutes of original material restored and 30 minutes of studio re-shoots removed.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mark Christopher|
|Produced by||Ira Deutchman|
Richard N. Gladstein
|Written by||Mark Christopher|
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Edited by||Lee Percy|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
105 minutes (Director's cut)
|Box office||$16.8 million|
Shane O'Shea is a young Jersey City man in the late 1970's, handsome enough to eventually become a bartender at Studio 54. He leaves behind his small-town life in New Jersey to come to New York City and be part of the hip scene. And comes to Studio 54, gaining admittance by officially taking off his uncool small-town shirt. There he befriends aspiring singer Anita and her husband, Greg Randazzo. Things between Shane, Anita and Greg develop into a love triangle and inevitably fall apart. He begins a real relationship with soap-opera actress Julie Black. His little sister Grace wants to indulge in the same decadent lifestyle, but Shane tries to dissuade her. Shane gets sucked into the hard-partying scene at Studio 54; as his life spirals downward, so does the club. The beloved Disco Dottie dies one night and Shane is upset and refuses to continue. Steve fires Shane and Shane is bounced from the nightclub in disgrace as he attempts to warn everyone that the FBI has arrived when finally owner and founder Steve Rubell's criminal activities are officially confirmed. Steve is arrested, tried and convicted. He is sent to prison and the club is seized, shut down. It's then re-opened and put into new hands--becoming entirely compromised. Every other club starts to do what Studio 54 did and it is no longer special. Everyone has a fall from grace, especially Steve himself. The original gang appears for one final night where Steve is allowed to run the club his way. Shane and Julie break up, but decide to remain native "Jersey" friends. Shane goes to business school and we hear Julie got a small part in a respectable film. Greg and Anita are still together and she has released an album.
Differences with the Director's CutEdit
Shane has affairs with both Julie and Anita. He also sees more women than merely Julie. He also kisses Greg, who pulls away. One night when Greg is willing to allow Steve to perform fellatio on him, Steve remarks he watched Shane and Anita both have sex. We see much of the homosexual romance that occurred. Greg feels betrayed and attacks Shane in a fist fight. We see Shane indulging in Steve's philosophy of open bisexuality on several occasions. He intimately kisses Greg, but Greg pulls back and rebuffs. It looks as though the triangle between them is forever broken. Julie offers Shane a ride in her limo as a consolation after her decision to leave to further her career, but Shane declines. He picks up a garbage bag as a coat and uses it to cover his shirtless self as well as Greg and Anita. Steve is arrested publicly and watches as Shane walks out of his life the film ends.
- Ryan Phillippe as Shane O'Shea
- Salma Hayek as Anita Randazzo
- Neve Campbell as Julie Black
- Mike Myers as Steve Rubell
- Sela Ward as Billie Auster
- Breckin Meyer as Greg Randazzo
- Sherry Stringfield as Viv
- Cameron Mathison as Atlanta
- Heather Matarazzo as Grace O'Shea
- Skipp Sudduth as Harlan O'Shea
- Mark Ruffalo as Ricko
- Lauren Hutton as Liz Vangelder
- Michael York as Ambassador
- Ellen Albertini Dow as Disco Dottie
- Peter Bogdanovich
- Cindy Crawford
- Sheryl Crow
- Elio Fiorucci
- Bruce Jay Friedman
- Art Garfunkel
- Georgina Grenville
- Thelma Houston
- Ron Jeremy
- Beverly Johnson
- Heidi Klum
- Lorna Luft
- Valerie Perrine
- Stars on 54 (Amber, Jocelyn Enriquez, and Ultra Naté)
- Cecilie Thomsen
- Donald Trump
- Frederique van der Wal
- Veronica Webb
- Sylvester Stallone
Based on two short films Mark Christopher made, Miramax Films persuaded Christopher to direct the full-length feature about Studio 54. He had spent five years researching the club and the time period while working on a screenplay. Miramax purchased a partial screenplay in 1995 and developed the script with the filmmaker for over a year. Christopher shot the film in Toronto over two months in the fall of 1997. During the production, a Miramax executive was often present on the set and studio head Harvey Weinstein flew up from New York to give his approval.
In the 1998 version, Christopher finished his cut of the film and the studio scheduled the film's release for July of the following year. After initial positive reactions within the company and a test screening in Manhattan, further test screenings in the suburbs disappointed the studio. Audiences found the lead character's bisexuality unlikable and reacted negatively to a kiss between Shane and Greg. They also did not respond well to the happy ending for both of them and Anita. Miramax requested cuts be made and Christopher initially refused.
The studio cut of the film received almost universally poor reviews and was a box office disappointment, grossing $16 million on an estimated budget of $13 million. Mike Myers, in his first serious dramatic role, garnered some of the film's only positive word-of-mouth. It was for the longest time his only foray into drama until Inglorious Basterds and Bohemian Rhapsody many years later. Many critics were particularly disappointed with the film's fictional characters and storyline, believing that Studio 54's notorious, real-life past should have been explored more in detail and with better realism. The critical response to the Director's Cut is more positive. It has a huge cult following among the LBGTQ community.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 16%, based on 68 reviews, and an average rating of 4.19/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Robbed of its integral LBGTQ themes, 54 is a compromised and disjointed glance at the glory days of disco".
The film was part of Frameline 39: The San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival.
The 2012 Blu-ray release features several additional and alternate scenes that were not included in the theatrical release. This extended cut runs 100 minutes, 8 minutes of which are not in the studio's 92 minute release. A 105-minute director's cut, restoring 44 minutes of original footage and deleting all but a few seconds of the studio-dictated reshot footage, was screened in the Panorama section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015. Miramax and Lionsgate Home Entertainment released 54: The Director's Cut in digital HD on streaming video providers on June 2, 2015.
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- Ascher-Walsh, Rebecca (1998-09-04). "The 411 On '54'". Entertainment Weekly (in Persian). Retrieved 2006-12-21.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for August 28–30, 1998". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- "54 (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
- Wilson, John (September 3, 2007). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywoods Worst. Hachette UK. ISBN 0446510084. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "Panorama 2015: Probing the Past to Shape the Future". Berlinale. Archived from the original on 2014-12-25. Retrieved 25 December 2014.