54 was director Mark Christopher’s 1998 film about the sex–, dance–, and drug-fueled, celebrity-spotting night club. But between principal photography and the final edit, so much of the films original gay content had been stripped out that “producer Dolly Hall took to calling it 55.”
Christopher has restored his vision of the story of a love triad between three friends at the infamous New York hotspot, starring Ryan Phillippe, Breckin Meyer, and Salma Hayek.
The new director’s cut is premiering at the Berlin film festival. “It was a movie ahead of its time,” Christopher told Variety. “First of all, the gay subject matter, that’s a huge thing. But we have a flawed lead character, which was really tough at the time for people to deal with. Now, you expect flawed characters, you expect lots of edge and a certain darkness.”
Phillippe plays Shane, a beautiful but dimwitted bisexual, spotted by Studio 54’s owner Steve Rubell (Mike Myers). He sleeps his way into a job in the club.
The movie tested poorly. According to Christopher: “But they didn’t test it in the cities (where the audience for a dark, edgy indie movie would be); they tested it out in malls in Long Island and places like that, and that audience was split between the cool people who loved it and the homophobes in the audience.” Shane’s same-sex rendezvous were subsequently cut out, re-shoots were ordered, and the budget ballooned.
The director’s cut strips out the re-shoots and restores axed footage, including Shane coming on to Meyer’s character.
Read the whole story at Variety.com. Watch a clip from the original cut below: