The hit musical leads to new fashion and a film deal

By Jessica Shaw
May 17, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • Movie

On Broadway, it’s definitely a Rent-er’s market. The April 29 premiere of the musical attracted rave reviews and a name-brand audience (among the celebs dotting the orchestra were Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver, Barbara Walters, Patrick Swayze, and George Clooney). But a star-studded turnout isn’t the rock opera’s only connection to Hollywood.

”Everyone wants a piece of Rent,” says DreamWorks mogul David Geffen, who snatched up the music rights even before the show was nominated for 10 Tony awards. The cast is currently recording a double album due from DreamWorks’ fledgling label this summer, but Geffen notes that the film rights are still up for grabs. ”[DreamWorks] won’t be doing the movie,” he says. Okay, then, which studio has the best shot at the AIDS-themed story of a group of East Village squatters? According to Geffen, ”It’s between MCA and Warner Bros.” Both studios declined to comment on the negotiations.

Strangely enough, even the fashion world wants to pay homage to Rent. Bloomingdale’s, for example, is offering a line of the flea market-esque threads featured in the musical. ”Thanks to Rent, there is a whole new wave of people that hadn’t affected fashion before now,” says Bloomie’s fashion director Kal Ruttenstein.

Duds and deals aside, at least one opening-night attendee thought that Rent should stick to being a theater phenomenon. ”They’re just so incredible. I’m completely overwhelmed by these people,” said Clooney during intermission. ”Although this kind of show doesn’t translate well into film, because it’s all about seeing it live. But I’m always wrong about those things. I thought Ishtar was a really funny movie.”

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 135 minutes
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