Zeitgeist Films and Kino Lorber have picked up U.S. rights for Matt Tyrnauer’s “Studio 54,” a documentary about the club that was at the epicenter of New York city nightlife in the 1970s.
The deal between Kino Lorber and A&E IndieFilms, the company that produced the film, was finalized during Cannes Film Festival. “Studio 54” will be released in theaters in the fall of 2018. The companies are planning to campaign the film for Academy Awards consideration.
Tyrnauer, a Vanity Fair editor-at-large turned filmmaker, previously directed “Valentino: The Last Emperor,” “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City,” and “Scotty and the Secret of Hollywood.” He’s shown a knack for getting under the skins of iconoclasts and myth-makers. He hit pay dirt with Steve Rubell, the flamboyant outer-bourough social-climber who created the ultimate playground for the rich and glamorous with his partner co-owner Ian Schrager. Over the course of a mere 33 months, Studio 54’s mixture of dancing, sexual heat, and drugs attracted everyone from Roy Cohn to Liza Minnelli.
The film premiered to raves at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and also screened at Tribeca. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman praised “Studio 54,” writing, “Matt Tyrnauer’s thrilling and definitive documentary captures the delirium — and the dark side — of the legendary New York disco.”
Tyrnauer’s film boasts interviews with many key players, including a series of sit-downs with Schrager (Rubell died of AIDS in 1989 at the age of 45). He also unearthed lots of previously unseen footage and stills, including 16mm film he sourced from former NYU Tisch film students who secretly shot inside the club for documentary about disco that was never made.
“I’m extremely pleased to be working with Zeitgeist and A&E IndieFilms on the release of ‘Studio 54,’” said Tyrnauer. “I’ve long admired their taste, and their discerning eye is perennially among the best in independent cinema today. ‘Studio 54’ and Zeitgeist are a perfect pair for this theatrical odyssey into the very different world, not that long ago, when a disco swept the world and changed the culture. I’m so pleased they are providing a platform for me to tell Ian and Steve’s remarkable story.”
Since signing a 2017 distribution alliance, Zeitgeist and Kino Lorber have been busy on the acquisitions front, picking up the likes of Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s “Love, Cecil” and Jeremy Frindel’s “The Doctor From India,” both of which will be opening in June. It also recently fielded another acclaimed showbiz documentary, “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,” a look at the barrier-breaking life of the actress and inventor.
Zeitgeist co-presidents Nancy Gerstman and Emily Russo said, “We just flipped for this great, fun movie. Not only has Matt Tyrnauer done a brilliant job in tying together all the pieces of the very complicated history of Studio 54, but he has made one of the most entertaining films of this year…or any year”.
Tyrnauer produced “Studio 54” with Altimeter Films partner Corey Reeser and Passion Pictures’ John Battsek. A&E’s Molly Thompson, Robert Sharenow and Elaine Frontain Bryant executive produced the project alongside Andrew Ruhemann at Passion Pictures.
“We’re thrilled that Zeitgeist is going to bring this film to theaters, where audiences can experience the excitement of entering Studio 54 and take Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell’s emotional journey from the outer boroughs to the top of the world,” said Thompson in a statement.
The deal for “Studio 54” was negotiated by Richard Lorber, CEO of Kino Lorber with Cinetic Media representing A&E IndieFilms and Altimeter Films.