Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mark Christopher|
|Produced by||Ira Deutchman
Richard N. Gladstein
|Written by||Mark Christopher|
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Editing by||Lee Percy|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Running time||93 minutes
105 minutes (Director's cut)
54 (also known as Studio 54) is a 1998 American drama film written and directed by Mark Christopher, loosely based on the late 1970s epopea of Studio 54, a world-famous New York City disco club, the main setting of the film. It stars Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek, and Neve Campbell. It also stars Mike Myers as Steve Rubell, the co-founder of the club.
Shane O'Shea (Ryan Phillippe) is a young Jersey man, handsome enough to become a bartender at Studio 54. There he befriends aspiring singer Anita (Salma Hayek) and her husband, Greg Randazzo (Breckin Meyer). Shane gets sucked into the hard-partying scene at Studio 54; as his life spirals downward, so does Studio 54.
- Ryan Phillippe as Shane O'Shea (based on Tieg Thomas, who worked at Studio 54 from 1977-1982)
- 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
- Noam Jenkins as Romeo
- 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
- Celebrity patrons
- Thelma Houston
- Ron Jeremy
- Elio Fiorucci
- Sheryl Crow
- Georgina Grenville
- Cindy Crawford
- Heidi Klum
- Donald Trump
- Cecilie Thomsen
- Frederique van der Wal
- Veronica Webb
- Art Garfunkel
- Peter Bogdanovich
- Beverly Johnson
- Bruce Jay Friedman
- Lorna Luft
- Valerie Perrine
- Stars on 54 (Amber, Ultra Naté, and Jocelyn Enriquez)
Based on two short films he had made, Mark Christopher persuaded Miramax Films to back a full-length feature 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 Christopher 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 Greg and Shane 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.
Historical inaccuracies 
Being on a tight budget, the movie ultimately ended up only a loosely-based rendition of the Studio 54 era: some of the most prominent club patrons of the time (Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Mariel and Margaux Hemingway, Mick and Bianca Jagger, and many others) are barely ever mentioned if at all (with the exception of Andy Warhol, briefly seen in one scene), although during the end credits some photos of the era are shown, depicting such people mingling with the club owners.
The time frame is slightly off against the actual dates when the events took place (primarily, the IRS raid): the movie is set during 1979, when Steve Rubell had already been indicted for tax crimes.
The co-founder of the club, Ian Schrager, a major figure at the time, is not seen at all, replaced by a mob-like Italian-American figure named "Anthony", supposedly the leader of the money-skimming operation that leads to the club ultimate demise. The character of Rubell is left as the sole manager of the establishment. Schrager was as present in the club life as Rubell was so his total absence from the script is puzzling.
Also, there is very little visual reference to the clothing, hair and makeup styles in fashion during the disco era of the late 1970s: at the time, men sported beards, moustaches and long hair much more evidently than what is seen in the movie, where furthermore only a few of the actresses and extras wear suitable hairstyles and clothes relevant to the time period. In fact, most of the patrons in the movies rather feature hair and clothes that were ordinary in the late 1990s when the movie was shot.
The decor, lighting and original furnishings of the Studio 54 dancefloor have been recreated only up to a point: some of the famous props are there (the man-moon, the rainbow lightfan, the DJ booth), while most of the lighting devices, such as moving heads, scanners and compact laser units, clearly visible in some scenes, simply did not exist at the time and would not have until well into the 1990s. Also, the original Studio 54 was rife with very colorful and powerful lighting marquees and pillars and similar devices, up to right in the middle of the dancefloor. There is no trace of those in the movie.
Most crowd scenes are sparsely populated, and dancing scenes are very sedate, as if very few extras were available for shooting.
The family of Steve Rubell protested after the film release for what they perceived as an unfaithful rendition of their relative's character, portrayed as an intelligent but inordinately sleazy gay predator with a severe alcohol and substance abuse problem, connected with the mob, and who literally swims thru stashes of dollar bills. While the money skimming operation did actually take place, and Rubell himself did die of AIDS-related causes in 1989, he was not open about his sexuality and there is no substantial evidence for mob connections or for the other film claims about him.
In the film, actress/singer Mary Griffin performs the song "Knock on Wood" while wearing an outfit strikingly similar to that which disco singer Amii Stewart wore in the video to "Knock On Wood" in 1979. Although it is obvious that Griffin is portraying Stewart, the credits at the end of the movie have Griffin's character listed only as Disco Star.
Critical reaction 
The studio cut of the film received almost universally middling-to-poor reviews and was a box office disappointment, grossing $16 million on an estimated budget of $13 million. Top-billed Myers, in his first serious dramatic role —having first garnered fame through comedy—garnered some of the film's only positive word-of-mouth. That generated 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 more in detail and with better realism. Critical response to the Director's cut, which has gained a fair amount of cult status, is positive.
Home media 
The DVD release features some additional and alternate scenes that were not included in the theatrical release. The Director's cut runs 105 minutes, 12 minutes of which are not in the studio's DVD release.
- "54 at IMDb". Retrieved 2010-09-29.
- "54 at Box Office Mojo". Archived from the original on 22 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
- Ascher-Walsh, Rebecca (1998-09-04). "The 411 On '54'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2006-12-21.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for August 28-30, 1998 - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
- 54 at Rotten Tomatoes