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Lords of Dogtown

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Lords of Dogtown
Three young men carrying skateboards
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCatherine Hardwicke
Written byStacy Peralta
Produced byJohn Linson
StarringEmile Hirsch
Victor Rasuk
John Robinson
Michael Angarano
Nikki Reed
Heath Ledger
Rebecca De Mornay
Johnny Knoxville
CinematographyElliot Davis
Edited byNancy Richardson
Music byMark Mothersbaugh
Columbia Pictures
TriStar Pictures
Art Linson Productions
Indelible Pictures
Senator International
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • June 3, 2005 (2005-06-03) (United States)
Running time
107 minutes (theatrical) 110 minutes (unrated)
CountryUnited States
Budget$25 million[1]
Box office$13.4 million[1]

Lords of Dogtown is a 2005 American biographical drama film that captures the rise of skateboarding culture in 1970s Santa Monica and Venice, California. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke and written by Stacy Peralta, a key figure in the skateboarding community, the film chronicles the lives of the Z-Boys, a group of young skateboarders who revolutionized the sport with their aggressive style and innovative tricks. The story focuses on the lives of three of these skateboarders: Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, and Jay Adams, as they navigate fame, rivalry, and personal challenges. The film explores the impact of commercialization on the sport and the lives of its practitioners. Despite mixed reviews[2] and underperforming at the box office, it has gained a cult following[3] and is recognized for its authentic portrayal of skateboarding culture and history.


In the Dogtown area of Santa Monica/Venice in the mid-1970s, teenagers Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, and Jay Adams enjoy the life of skating and surfing the pier with board designer Skip Engblom and other locals. One day, Skip is given polyurethane wheels for the skateboards in his shop, Zephyr Surf Shop. Sid, a friend of the boys who works in the same shop, invites Tony, Jay, Stacy, and the other locals to test the new wheels. After witnessing what skaters could now do with the wheels, Skip decides to add Tony, Jay, Sid and others to his Zephyr skate team. The team proves to be a success, winning many contests.

A period of hot weather reduces the surf at the pier and the official declaration of a drought means swimming pools cannot be filled with water. Taking advantage of this, the Z-Boys start sneaking into local backyard pools to skate in, ignoring Skip's practice sessions. After winning many major contests, Stacy, Jay, and Tony start getting noticed by major skating companies looking to take the boys from Skip.

One night at a party, a company owner named Topper Burks convinces Tony that Skip is holding him back and that it is time to make him famous worldwide. Tony accepts his offer and leaves the team. Jay leaves the team as well, looking to make more money to help his mom. Despite Skip's desperate offers to keep him on the team, Stacy is the last to leave, as he begins getting offers to skate as well as to appear on television. Sad and angry, Skip decides to shut down the Zephyr Skate Team.

The three boys become major celebrities. Tony and Stacy now skate for money rather than the passion that Jay continues to skate for. They become rivals and compete against each other in various contests. Soon, matters start spiraling out of control; at a major skating championship that they all take part in, Tony gets into a fight with another skater and gets violently knocked out, temporarily halting his career. Jay leaves the company he had endorsed when they sacrifice quality for cheap materials.

Back in Venice, the pier that the Z-Boys use to surf around burns down, which affects them all. Jay shaves his hair and becomes a gang member. Skip, still selling surfboards in his shop, finally decides to settle down and continues his passion for sanding and creating surfboards, as well as solving his financial troubles by selling his shop.

Sid's long-time equilibrium problem turns out to be caused by a brain tumor, and he undergoes surgery. Though Stacy, Tony, and Jay have all gone their separate ways, they all show up at the same time to visit Sid. Stacy reveals that he is leaving his company to start his own. Stacy, Tony, and Jay skate the emptied pool and bring Sid into the fun on his wheelchair, referencing all the good times they had before they became a skate team.

Closing cards reveal that Tony Alva went on to become skateboarding's first world champion and runs Alva Skates; Stacy Peralta started Powell Peralta, a modern popular skating company that included a 14-year-old Tony Hawk as part of its Bones Brigade team; and Jay, too, achieved the only kind of success at skating and surfing he really cared about, becoming known as the "spark that started the flame" Original Seed; Sid died of brain cancer shortly after the DOGBOWL sessions.


Main cast[edit]



Both David Fincher and Fred Durst were slated to direct the film, but Catherine Hardwicke eventually landed the job, and Fincher stayed on as executive producer.[5] The film was shot in Imperial Beach in San Diego County.[6]


Lords of Dogtown was the first (and so far only) film to be released by both Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures which are both trademarked by Sony Pictures Entertainment and are sometimes referred to as Columbia TriStar Pictures.[7]

Reception [edit]

Upon its release, Lords of Dogtown received mostly mixed reviews. The film holds a 55% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 146 reviews, with an average rating of 5.95/10. The site's consensus reads: "Lords of Dogtown, while slickly made and edited, lacks the depth and entertaining value of the far superior documentary on the same subject, Dogtown and Z-Boys."[8] Metacritic reports a score of 56% based on 35 critics, indicating "Mixed or average reviews".[9]

Ledger's portrayal of Skip Engblom was applauded for its realism and is considered one of the film's principal highlights. Joe Donnelly, who knew Engblom, was impressed by Ledger's attention to detail, saying, "He's almost eerie in how precisely he nailed not only the mannerisms, cadence and physical presence of Skip... but also how he raises Skip's spirit, which is the heart and soul and most what's really great in a not-altogether-great film."[10]

Luke Davies of The Monthly concedes how flamboyant the character is, but says the film is saved by Ledger's emotional depth: "The performance constantly sails close to hammy – Engblom was, by all accounts, a flamboyant character – but is pulled back, the wildness offset by a surprising depth of sadness. As in a number of Ledger roles, a kind of animal wisdom and melancholy exists side-by-side with gangly comedy."[10]

A.O. Scott of The New York Times also highlighted Ledger's performances, stating, "Skip is always volatile, frequently drunk and consistently the most entertaining figure in the movie". He also praised the movie as a whole, stating, "Lords of Dogtown from start to finish is pretty much a blast".[11]

However, the movie has gained a general cult following since its release.[12] It is also considered to be one of the best skateboarding movies of all time according to many fans of the sport.[13]


The Central Ohio Film Critics Association named Heath Ledger Actor of the Year for this film.[14]

Lords of Dogtown is at #417 on the Empire list of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time".[15]


The film's soundtrack features songs by Sparklehorse (covering Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here"), Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Cher, David Bowie, Neil Young, T.Rex, Jimi Hendrix, and Iggy Pop among others, as well as a cover of The Clash's "Death or Glory" by Social Distortion.[16]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS, DVD and UMD on September 27, 2005. The DVD includes original Z-Boys cameos, director and cast commentaries, deleted scenes, a making-of feature, and make-up test outtakes.[17]

Television series[edit]

In January 2021, it was announced that a television series based on the movie was in development for Freevee.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Lords of Dogtown". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  2. ^ "Lords of Dogtown | Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. June 3, 2005. Archived from the original on August 15, 2021. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  3. ^ Watson, Elijah (September 7, 2015). "Ten Years Later, 'Lords of Dogtown' Remains a Monument to Teen Boy Bravado". Vice. Archived from the original on August 16, 2021. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  4. ^ Lords of Dogtown (film). 2005. Event occurs at 1:46:55.
  5. ^ Mancini, Rob (January 24, 2003). "Fred Durst replaced by David Fincher on Lords of Dogtown project" Archived March 30, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. MTV News. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  6. ^ Hernandez, K. (June 6, 2007). "Imperial Beach's Starring Role". Voice of San Diego. Archived from the original on November 15, 2022. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  7. ^ LaPorte, Nicole (April 10, 2005). "TriStar adds new label to table" Archived June 19, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. Variety. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  8. ^ "Lords of Dogtown" Archived August 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  9. ^ "Lords of Dogtown Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on August 11, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Davies, Luke (March 2008). "Heath Ledger, 1979-2008" Archived March 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. The Monthly. Retrieved November 26, 2010.
  11. ^ Scott, A.O. (June 3, 2005). "When California Started Sliding on Little Wheels". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  12. ^ Watson, Elijah (September 7, 2015). "Ten Years Later, Lords of Dogtown Remains a Monument to Teen Boy Bravado" Archived September 21, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Noisey.com. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  13. ^ "Top 10 Skateboard Movies" Archived November 28, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. EnkiVillage. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  14. ^ "Heath Ledger Movies". Archived from the original on August 9, 2017.
  15. ^ "The 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time". Empire. November 2008. Archived from the original on June 26, 2015.
  16. ^ "Lords of Dogtown (Original Soundtrack)" Archived February 23, 2024, at the Wayback Machine. Amazon.com. Retrieved March 26, 2007.
  17. ^ Gruenwedel, Erik (August 17, 2005). "Director Lets DVD Viewers See More of Dogtown". Hive4media.com. Archived from the original on November 22, 2005. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  18. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 6, 2021). "Lords Of Dogtown TV Series Based On Movie In Works At IMDb TV From Kat Candler, Shawn Ryan & Sony TV" Archived January 28, 2021, at the Wayback Machine. Deadline. Retrieved March 14, 2021.

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