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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Allan Moyle|
|Produced by||Tony Ludwig
|Written by||Carol Heikkinen|
|Editing by||Michael Chandler|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||90 minutes|
|Box office||$303,841 (United States)|
Empire Records is a 1995 American coming-of-age film that follows a group of record store employees over the course of one exceptional day. The employees of this independent music store try to fight off becoming a large chain, all while learning about each other. The film was directed by Allan Moyle and stars Anthony LaPaglia, Robin Tunney, Rory Cochrane, Renée Zellweger, Ethan Embry, and Liv Tyler.
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Empire Records is a small, independent record shop managed by Joe (Anthony LaPaglia). The store is set in an unnamed city in Delaware, and, like the employees, is eclectic and unique. The staff is very much a self-created family, with Joe as the reluctant and perpetually exasperated but loveable father figure.
Joe selects Lucas (Rory Cochrane) to close the store for the first time ever. While counting the day's receipts, Lucas discovers that Empire Records is about to be converted into a branch of Music Town, a franchise music store. In an attempt to save the store, Lucas takes the day's cash receipts to Atlantic City. While initially very lucky, he loses the entire amount.
Joe is distracted from dealing with this immediate crisis due to a scheduled publicity stunt. Rex Manning (Maxwell Caulfield), a pompous, fading pop singer, is due to arrive to sign autographs and promote his new album. No one is really looking forward to "Rex Manning Day" except cashier Corey (Liv Tyler), an overachieving student headed for Harvard University who has a schoolgirl crush on Rex, and plans to lose her virginity to him. Corey's best friend and fellow cashier Gina (Renée Zellweger), a more adventurous and free spirit than Corey, encourages Corey in her pursuit of the much older Manning.
Empire's owner, Mitchell Beck (Ben Bodé), arrives to collect the missing deposit, but Joe covers for Lucas and plays for time by handing Mitchell a bag full of loose receipts. A.J. (Johnny Whitworth) confides in Joe that he loves Corey, and has chosen Rex Manning Day as the day he tells her. Lucas returns and rather than show repentance or guilt, calmly and repeatedly insists that everything will somehow work out, much to Joe's growing confusion and frustration. Joe forbids Lucas to leave the store (or even the couch in the break room) until he is able to repay the $9,000.
Deb (Robin Tunney), another store employee, arrives. She, as usual, is hostile and antisocial to the rest of the staff. She immediately locks herself in the bathroom, where she impulsively shaves her head. As she exits the bathroom, A.J. sees that her wrists are bandaged and she admits that she attempted suicide. It is revealed that Deb and Berko (Coyote Shivers), a local rock musician and another store employee with whom Deb is romantically involved, have recently had a fight, but Deb insists that he was not the reason for her suicide attempt.
A young shoplifter who identifies himself only as Warren Beatty (Brendan Sexton III) is apprehended outside the store by Lucas. Soon after, Rex Manning arrives with his assistant Jane (Debi Mazar). Manning is condescending toward Joe, the rest of the staff, and his fans. Corey demands to bring Rex his lunch and awkwardly attempts to seduce him during his lunch break. When Manning responds with a crude pass, Corey runs off in embarrassment. A lovesick A.J. finally attempts to tell Corey how he feels about her. Corey, emotionally overwhelmed by her encounter with her idol, tells A.J. that she cannot handle his admission. Crushed, A.J. abandons his plan. In the meanwhile, both Joe and Berko attempt to reach out to Deb, who refuses to explain her behavior or the circumstances that led to her bandaged wrists. Deb buries herself in work, but is clearly upset. As the afternoon progresses, the plan to convert Empire Records into a Music Town is revealed, and Joe admits that he had hoped to buy Mitchell out. However, Joe will now have to use his money to replace what Lucas lost, and Empire Records is now doomed to become a Music Town.
The afternoon continues to spiral downward. Corey accuses Gina of encouraging her ill-advised behavior around Rex. Outraged at the accusation and seeking to hurt Corey, Gina seduces Rex Manning, much to the horror of her friends. When Corey confronts her, calling her a slut, Gina retaliates by revealing Corey's secret amphetamine habit, which helps her stay up all night studying. Corey has a hysterical episode and has to be physically restrained by Joe. Deb shows uncharacteristic sympathy toward the always perfect Corey having a near meltdown and helps calm her. Corey, after hearing about Deb's suicide attempt, arranges a "funeral" for her where all her friends gather around and say things that they love about her, but instead they reveal their own issues. A.J. finally voices his fears of losing Corey over Harvard and his own future. Gina (who has since returned to the store) reveals a secret desire to sing in a rock band, but has held back on realizing that dream over a fear of following in her former fellow party-girl mother's footsteps upon finishing high school. Lucas reveals that Joe actually rescued him from the orphanage as a teen, and was trying to repay him for his kindness. Deb removes her bandage and reveals a superficial scratch, admitting that she tried to "kill herself" with a Lady Bic razor with a moisturizing strip because she was "tired of feeling invisible", indicating that her attempt was cry for attention.
During the mock funeral, "Warren" returns with a gun and holds up the store. Deb boldly confronts Warren, confusing him and distracting him from his plan, and the rest of the staff persuade Warren into admitting that he only returned because he felt kinship with the rest of the misfits in the store, leading Joe to offer him a job. After the police leave, Lucas admits defeat, and suggests calling Mitchell. However, his friends and coworkers (along with Jane, who has quit working for Rex), pool their resources to replace the missing money. Despite their best efforts, they are thousands short. Suddenly inspired, Mark (Ethan Embry) runs out of the store, jumps in front of a news crew covering the holdup, and announces a late night benefit party/concert to save Empire. Between A.J.'s art, various money-raising efforts by the rest of the staff, and a rooftop concert featuring Berko's band (with Gina on backup vocals), enough is made to replace the money Lucas lost. Joe and Lucas return the money to Mitchell, and promptly quit. Mitchell, appalled at the debacle, offers to sell the store to Joe, admitting he's always hated the place. Joe agrees. Corey tells A.J. that she really does love him, too, but that she now hates him for doubting his ability to succeed in art school. A.J. tells her he has quit, and states his plans to attend art school in Boston, and they finally kiss. The gang all dance together on the store's roof in celebration.
- Anthony LaPaglia as Joe Reaves
- Maxwell Caulfield as Rex Manning
- Debi Mazar as Jane
- Renée Zellweger as Gina
- Rory Cochrane as Lucas
- Johnny Whitworth as A.J.
- Robin Tunney as Debra
- Ethan Embry as Mark (As Ethan Randall)
- Coyote Shivers as Berko
- Brendan Sexton III as Warren (As Brendan Sexton)
- Liv Tyler as Corey Mason
- James 'Kimo' Wills as Eddie
- Ben Bode as Mitchell Beck
- Gary Bolen as Croupier
- Craig Edwards as Male Rex Manning Fan
- Kimber Sissons as Woman at Craps Table (As Kimber Monroe)
- Tobey Maguire as Andre (Deleted scenes)
- Bernard "Nik" Granger as Police Officer
The film did poorly at the box office and received generally negative reviews. As of December 2009, it has only a 24% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert called the film a "lost cause," but presciently wrote that some of the actors might have a future in other, better films; LaPaglia, Cochrane, Embry, Zellweger, Tyler and Tunney all went on to achieve significantly greater fame. Despite its poor box office performance, the film has established something of a cult classic status. Even though the majority of professional reviews on Rotten Tomatoes were negative, 83% of users enjoyed the film.
- "Til I Hear It from You" by Gin Blossoms
- "Liar" by The Cranberries
- "A Girl Like You" by Edwyn Collins
- "Free" by The Martinis
- "Crazy Life" by Toad the Wet Sprocket
- "Bright As Yellow" by The Innocence Mission
- "Circle of Friends" by Better Than Ezra
- "I Don't Want to Live Today" by Ape Hangers
- "Whole Lotta Trouble" by Cracker
- "Ready, Steady, Go" by The Meices
- "What You Are" by Drill
- "Nice Overalls" by Lustre
- "Here It Comes Again" by Please
- "The Ballad of El Goodo" by Evan Dando
- "Sugarhigh" by Coyote Shivers
- "The Honeymoon Is Over" by The Cruel Sea (This track only appears on the revised version of the soundtrack)
Songs in the film not listed on soundtrack
- "Can't Stop Losing Myself" by Dirt Clods
- "Hey Joe" by Dirt Clods
- "Dark and Brooding" by Noah Stone
- "Thorn in My Side" by Quicksand
- "Little Bastard" by Ass Ponys (as Ass Ponies)
- "I Don't Know Why" by Sacrilicious
- "Real" by Real
- "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)" by AC/DC
- "Counting Blue Cars" by Dishwalla
- "Snakeface" by Throwing Muses
- "Candy" by Full Tilt Gonzo
- "How" by The Cranberries
- "Hardlight" by Peg Boy
- "Chew Toy" by Fig Dish
- "Power Shack" by Fitz of Depression
- "Saddam A Go-Go" by Gwar
- "Backdown Blues" by Loose Diamonds
- "Tomorrow" by Mouth Music
- "Plowed" by Sponge
- "Surround You" by Billy White Trio
- "L.A. Girl" by Adolescents
- "Seems" by Queen Sarah Saturday
- "Vinyl Advice" by Dead Hot Workshop
- "This is the Day" by The The
- "Say No More (Mon Amour)" by Maxwell Caulfield as Rex Manning (written for the film)
- "She Walks" by Poster Children
- "Sorry" by Sybil Vane
- "Infinity" by Mouth Music
- "Money (That's What I Want)" by Flying Lizards
- "Sugar High (ft. Renee Zellweger)" by Coyote Shivers
- "Seems" by Queen Sarah Saturday
- "Romeo and Juliet" by Dire Straits
- "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles
- "I Shot the Devil" by Suicidal Tendencies
- "Rock 'n' Roll/EGA" by Daniel Johnston
The version of the song "Sugarhigh" that appears in the movie differs significantly from the one included on the soundtrack. The main differences are that the movie version has additional lyrics and chorus vocals provided by Renée Zellweger and it is musically one semitone lower than the CD version. Francis "Coyote Shivers", the artist who released the song, played the lead singer of the song in the movie.
The movie was written by a former employee of Tower Records store #166 (Christown Mall) in Phoenix, Arizona. When the film was released and for a long time afterward, a number of her former coworkers still working cited anecdotes and other elements of the film that related to the store. This store closed in early 2005, ten years after the film's release.
The film was severely edited in post-production, removing three significant characters and up to 40 minutes of film. The story was also condensed down from occurring over two days to a single day.
Film exteriors were filmed on North Front Street in Wilmington, North Carolina in a bar that had a few feet of space converted into an exact replica of the store set which was located at Carolco (now Screen Gems) studios, and finished out with a large picture of the rest of the store. This allowed the actors to enter the exterior location doors and walk in a couple of feet before the scene would cut to the interior set on Soundstage 4 at the studios. The large mural of Gloria Estefan which Mark kisses early in the film was visible for many years on the separate building, on South Water Street, that stood in for the back of the store.
The Rex Manning music video 'Say No More, Mon Amour' was shot prior to principal photography started, and was shot on Wrightsville Beach NC and shot entirely in one day. It was only intended to be a 17 second dance move piece for the main actors to make fun of in the film. However, the Director of the music video shot for the entire day and gave the producers an entire 4:30 minute music video.
Remix: Special Fan Edition DVD
On June 3, 2003 Warner Brothers released the Remix: Special Fan Edition DVD of Empire Records. It includes 4 extra scenes and 16 minutes of additional footage. The Fan edition also includes the ever popular music video Rex Manning 'Say No More, Mon Amour' directed for the film by Jordan Dawes.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Empire Records|
- Empire Records at the Internet Movie Database
- Empire Records at AllRovi
- Empire Records at Rotten Tomatoes
- Empire Records at Box Office Mojo