54 (film)

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54 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mark Christopher
Produced by Ira Deutchman
Richard N. Gladstein
Dolly Hall
Written by Mark Christopher
Starring Ryan Phillippe
Salma Hayek
Neve Campbell
Mike Myers
Sela Ward
Breckin Meyer
Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography Alexander Gruszynski
Edited by Lee Percy
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • August 28, 1998 (1998-08-28)
Running time
93 minutes
105 minutes (Director's cut)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $13 million[1]
Box office $16.8 million[2]

54 is a 1998 American drama film written and directed by Mark Christopher, about Studio 54, a world-famous New York City disco club, the main setting of the film. It stars Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek, Neve Campbell and Mike Myers as Steve Rubell, the co-founder of the club. The film was extensively reshot and recut in 1998 to poor critical acclaim but respectable box office. In 2008, a bootleg version of the director's cut was screened at Outfest leading to a demand for its release. In 2015, Miramax premiered the film with its original story, characters, tone and themes to critical acclaim at the Berlin International Film Film Festival. Since then, this version has gone on to be a lauded on the festival circuit and was given limited theatrical runs internationally.


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 It.


Celebrity patrons[edit]


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.

In the 1998 version, 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 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.[3] 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.

17 years later, Christopher had the opportunity to delete the reshoots, record a simple new opening voice-over with Phillippe (a cinematic first for an actor and director) and reinstate over 40 minutes of original material. Christopher and his director's cut producer, Jonathan King, believed that the film had merit and a fan base. Miramax finally gave the director's cut the green light in 2014.

Critical reaction[edit]

54 opened at #4 in its opening weekend (August 28–30, 1998) with $6,611,532 behind Blade, There's Something About Mary, and Saving Private Ryan.[4]

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. That generated brief buzz that his performance would land him among those nominated for an Academy Award (though he ultimately was not nominated, he was nominated for a New York Critics Circle Award until the critics viewed the recut of the film). In the 1998 version, 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 substantial amount of cult status, is positive.

The film currently holds a 15% 'Rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 65 reviews, with the consensus "Poor plot development and slow pacing keep 54 from capturing the energy of its legendary namesake."[5]

The film was nominated for two Razzie Awards, including Worst Actor for Ryan Phillippe[6] and Worst Supporting Actress for Ellen Albertini Dow.[citation needed].

The film is part of Frameline 39: The San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival.

Home media[edit]

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.[7] Miramax and Lionsgate Home Entertainment released 54: The Director’s Cut in digital HD on streaming video providers on June 2, 2015.[8]


  1. ^ "54 at IMDb". Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  2. ^ "54 at Box Office Mojo". Archived from the original on 22 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  3. ^ Ascher-Walsh, Rebecca (1998-09-04). "The 411 On '54'" (in Persian). Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2006-12-21. 
  4. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for August 28–30, 1998 — Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-03-22. 
  5. ^ 54 at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ Awards for 54 at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  7. ^ "Panorama 2015: Probing the Past to Shape the Future". Berlinale. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  8. ^ http://www.miramax.com/press/54-directors-cut/

External links[edit]