CBGB (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byRandall Miller
Produced by
  • Jody Savin
  • Randall Miller
  • Brad Rosenberger
Written by
  • Jody Savin
  • Randall Miller
Music byCliff Eidelman
CinematographyMichael J. Ozier
Edited byDan O'Brien
Unclaimed Freight Productions
Distributed byXLrator Media
Release date
  • September 5, 2013 (2013-09-05) (VOD premiere)
  • October 4, 2013 (2013-10-04) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million
Box office$40,400[1]

CBGB is a 2013 American biographical drama film about the former New York music venue CBGB.[2] It follows the story of Hilly Kristal's New York club from its concept as a venue for Country, Bluegrass and Blues (CBGB) to what it ultimately became: the birthplace of underground rock 'n' roll and punk.[3] The film uses devices such as a comic book-style panels, as well as onscreen text to identify important figures in the punk movement.


In 1970s New York City, Hilly Kristal is divorced and has filed bankruptcy for the second time. Despite setbacks, he is determined to own and manage a bar. With his business partner Merv Ferguson, Kristal convinces his mother to lend them the money needed to establish the dive bar CBGB, which Kristal intends to make into a country music venue.

The business gets off to a rocky start as there are few customers and Kristal has difficulty finding country acts. However, a rock band called Television arrives at the bar and auditions. Seeing potential, Kristal books them. CBGB soon becomes a rock venue that caters to the burgeoning punk movement. New acts such as Blondie, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, and The Ramones begin to get noticed by playing at the club. The fledgling fanzine Punk also gets its start by reporting on the bands and debating the movement's ideology (or lack thereof). Despite CBGB's newfound success, Kristal poorly manages the club's funds (he keeps the money in his apartment freezer) and fails to regularly pay bills or rent. Kristal's daughter Lisa tries to take over the chaotic finances in an attempt to save the business.

After The Ramones are signed to Sire Records, Kristal decides to manage CBGB regulars The Dead Boys. Lisa warns Kristal that he can't financially afford to take on a band. Kristal ignores her, as well as others who caution him about The Dead Boys' destructive and anti-social behavior. While on tour, the band crashes and totals their truck and equipment, leaving Kristal and CBGB broke. This leads to Ferguson threatening to leave the business for good, which Kristal doesn't believe. Soon afterwards, The Dead Boys gets into a fight with a group of thugs and their drummer, Johnny Blitz, is stabbed seventeen times and barely survives.

Despondent and penniless, Kristal announces to his employees that CBGB will be closing. Ferguson and Lisa reveal that they have made many calls to grateful friends whom Kristal helped in the past. They've scraped together enough money to stay open long enough to stabilize the situation. The film ends with The Police auditioning for Kristal.

The epilogue reveals that CBGB remained open until 2006. Kristal remains an important figure in the history of punk and rock and roll. Lisa went on to become a lawyer. Ferguson always wore a yellow construction helmet and no one ever knew why. Kristal continued to manage The Dead Boys until they broke up in 1979. The epilogue closes by stating Kristal's dog, Jonathan, had legendary bowels since he was known for defecating wherever he pleased inside the club. Over the final credits, the real-life Talking Heads' acceptance speech during the 2002 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is played, during which they invite Kristal to the stage and thank him for his support.



CBGB premiered on DirecTV's video on demand platform "DirecTV Cinema" on September 5, 2013 and was available through October 2, 2013, in standard and high-definition formats (including "Yekra", an all-new independent film streaming and social distribution site).[4][5] Following a national release in select theaters beginning October 4, 2013, it was shown at various times throughout the CBGB Music & Film Festival in New York City from October 9 through October 13, 2013.[6][7] The DVD and Blu-ray were scheduled for release on December 31, 2013.[8]


Box office[edit]

CBGB made its theatrical premiere on October 4, 2013 and grossed $3,909 at the box office its opening weekend from one theater. The film then began its wide release in select theaters October 4, 2013.[1] The total U.S. theatrical gross for the film was $40,400.[1]

Critical response[edit]

The film has been panned by critics. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 7% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 43 reviews, with a weighted average score of 3.4/10, with the consensus simply reading "Hey! Ho! No no!".[9] At Metacritic, the film has received an average score of 30 out of 100, based on 17 reviews from mainstream critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[10]

Robert Abele of the Los Angeles Times called it "merely a mess of caricatures".[11] Likewise, Brian McManus of The Village Voice writes: "CBGB's biggest problem is that it's taken such electrifying source material and done absolutely zilch with it."[12]


CBGB: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedOctober 8, 2013 (2013-10-08)
LabelOmnivore Recordings, Universal
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars [13]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[14]

The soundtrack was released on October 8, 2013. It is available on CD, Vinyl and as a digital download.[15][16] The first pressing Omnivore released of the soundtrack is a double album on translucent pink vinyl. Rhino released a deluxe digital version with additional tracks on the same day.[17][18] The film's score was composed and conducted by Cliff Eidelman.

CBGB: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Standard edition[15]
No.TitlePerformed byLength
1."Life During Wartime"Talking Heads3:41
2."Kick Out the Jams" (Uncensored Version)MC52:52
3."Chatterbox"New York Dolls2:26
5."Blank Generation"Richard Hell and the Voidoids2:44
6."Slow Death"Flamin' Groovies4:23
7."I Can't Stand It"The Velvet Underground3:21
8."Out Of Control (the featured track from the album)"Wayne County & the Electric Chairs3:53
9."Psychotic Reaction"Count Five3:07
10."All For The Love Of Rock 'n' Roll"Tuff Darts3:25
11."All By Myself"The Heartbreakers2:52
12."California Sun" (Original DEMO)The Dictators3:04
13."Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth"Dead Boys2:07
14."I Got Knocked Down (But I'll Get Up)"Joey Ramone3:42
15."Get Outta My Way"The Laughing Dogs2:47
16."Sunday Girl" (2013 Version)Blondie3:03
17."I Wanna Be Your Dog"The Stooges3:11
18."Sonic Reducer"Dead Boys3:06
19."Roxanne"The Police3:12
20."Birds And The Bees"Hilly Kristal3:59
Total length:1:03:59
Rhino Deluxe Digital Exclusive Version[18]
No.TitlePerformed byLength
21."Ain't Nothin To Do"Dead Boys2:28
22."1969"The Stooges4:06
23."Psycho Killer"Talking Heads4:20
24."Marquee Moon"Television10:38
25."Oh Yeah"The Shadows of Knight2:48
26."All Hell Breaks Loose"Misfits1:46
27."Mean Machine"The Cramps3:57
29."Lexicon Devil"The Germs1:44
30."Who Wants An Ugly Girl?"Tom Tom Club4:54
31."Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely"Hüsker Dü3:30
32."Jocko Homo"Devo3:37
33."Fun City"Tuff Darts2:57
Total length:1:53:43


  1. ^ a b c CBGB at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  2. ^ "CBGB, New Film Tells the History of New York City's Legendary Club". laughingsquid.com. April 10, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  3. ^ Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ "'CBGB' To Premiere On DirecTV Cinema". Deadline Hollywood. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  5. ^ "CBGB the Movie (CBGBtheMovie) on Twitter". Twitter. 6 September 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  6. ^ "CBGB The Movie". Facebook. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  7. ^ "CBGB Music & Film Festival Sets 'CBGB', the Movie as Opening Night Premiere". Broadwayworld.com. 10 August 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  8. ^ "CBGB: Movies". Amazon.com. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  9. ^ "CBGB (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  10. ^ "CBGB Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  11. ^ Los Angeles Times
  12. ^ McManus, Brian. "CBGB". The Village Voice. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  13. ^ CBGB at AllMusic
  14. ^ Hermes, Will (October 7, 2013). "CBGB: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Amazon.com: CBGB: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  16. ^ "Amazon.com: CBGB: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition) [Explicit]: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  17. ^ Gallo, Phil (August 2, 2013). "Omnivore, Rhino to Release 'CBGB' Soundtrack". Billboard. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Now Available: CBGB - rhino.com". Rhino. Retrieved November 1, 2013.

External links[edit]