54 (film)

54 or Studio 54 is a 1998 film starring Salma Hayek, Ryan Phillippe and Neve Campbell. It also stars Mike Myers as Steve Rubell, the cofounder of Studio 54, a New York City disco club famous in the late 1970s and the setting for the film. The film was directed by Mark Christopher who also wrote the screenplay. The original music score was composed by Marco Beltrami. Music supervisors were Susan Jacobs and Coati Mundi.

Plot summary

The film centers around Shane O'Shea (Ryan Phillippe), a young man from Jersey City, New Jersey who is handsome enough to become a bartender at Studio 54. While working at the club, Shane befriends Anita Randazzo (Salma Hayek), an aspiring singer, and her husband Greg (Breckin Meyer). As Shane gets sucked into the hard-partying scene at Studio 54, and as his life spirals downward, so does Studio 54. The DVD release features some additional and alternate scenes that were not included in the theatrical release, but it is by no means the director's cut. The director's cut runs one hour and 45 minutes, 45 minutes of which are not in the studio's DVD release.


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Based on two short films he had made, Mark Christopher persuaded Miramax to back a movie about Studio 54. He had spent five years researching the club and the time period, as well as 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 found on the set and studio head Harvey Weinstein flew up from New York to give his approval.

Expectations were high with the hopes that the film would become a big summer hit. Christopher finished his cut of the film and the studio scheduled the film’s release for July of the following year. After initial positive reaction within the company, early test screenings in the Long Island suburbs for the two-hour cut of the film were disappointing to the studio. Audiences found the characters unlikable and reacted negatively to the kiss between Shane and Greg. They also did not respond well to the happy ending for both of them and Anita. Christopher said via his publicist, “Our goal was to keep the audience sympathetic to the characters, [and] any material that was removed from the film was removed because it was too challenging for some members of the audience." Miramax requested cuts be made and Christopher initially refused.

The studio forced the director to reshoot parts of his movie with only two months until its theatrical release, destroying the love triangle subplot between the three characters. Much of the cast was called back for two weeks of additional filming in New York without being told what they would be shooting. Meyer, for example, found out that his substantial part in the film had been cut down to a stereotypical best-friend role and a new scene was shot that portrayed his character as a thief. The kiss between his character and Phillippe’s was replaced with a conversation. Ultimately, 45 minutes of the original film were deleted and replaced with 25 minutes of new scenes and voice-over.

Christopher initially complained to friends and colleagues about what the studio was doing to his movie but under pressure at the film's release, he took a more politically advantageous stance. “We were both trying to make the best movie possible, and I think we’ve done that," he said at the time.

Critical reaction

The studio cut of the film received almost universally middling-to-poor reviews and was a box office disappointment, grossing only $16M on an estimated budget of $13M. Top-billed Myers, in his first serious dramatic role, having first garnered fame through comedy (in what is essentially a secondary role, as Studio 54 co-founder Steve Rubell) garnered some of the film's only positive word-of-mouth, generating brief buzz that his performance would land him among those nominated for an Academy Award (though he ultimately was not nominated). 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 instead. Critical response to the director's cut, which has gained a fair amount of cult status, are positive.


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