“Aanhin mo pa ang gwapo kung mas malandi pa sa iyo.”

It was Black Saturday when Arnold, Henry, Jim, Brad, and I watched Rent The Movie at Greenbelt 3 Cinema 4. It’s been a week now but still I can’t get over it. In fact, I’ve downloaded their complete song album and a pirated copy of the movie from the Internet. I know it’s illegal, but it will just be until I get an original DVD copy of it. That’s for sure.

I got some juicy information regarding the film from wikipedia.org.

Rent is the film adaptation of the award-winning Broadway musical of the same name, released November 23, 2005. Production began March 15, 2005. The film’s limited release date in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto on November 11, 2005 was cancelled, and the official premiere was at New York’s Ziegfeld Theatre on November 17, 2005.

Rent the Movie

Many exterior shots were filmed in New York City; the interior and remaining exterior shots were filmed in San Francisco and Oakland.

Until 2001, Spike Lee was to direct the film for Miramax. However, budget constraints and Lee’s insistence on casting big-name stars like Justin Timberlake and Brittany Murphy led the film to be shelved.

In October 2004, Revolution Studios picked up the film, with Chris Columbus as the director and Columbia Pictures as the distributor. Columbus, himself an NYU student and graduate at the turn of the 1980s, and in the location where the musical and film are set, felt a connection with the characters and their experiences.

In the film as in the musical, the story takes place over one year. The film, however, differs in that it provides the precise beginning and ending dates of the storyline: between December 24, 1989 and that same date in 1990. (This precise dating creates several anachronisms; for example, the song “Today 4 U” contains a reference to Thelma and Louise, a film released in 1991.) Columbus has said that this was done to firmly set the film before the gentrification of parts of the East Village that occurred during the 1990s.

The film was a commerical bomb, grossing $10,000,000 less in theaters than it cost to produce.

Cast of Rent the Movie


All but two principal members of the original Broadway cast reprise their roles on film. Names in bold denote original Broadway cast members.

  • Rosario Dawson, Mimi Marquez
  • Taye Diggs, Benjamin “Benny” Coffin III
  • Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Angel Dumott Schunard
  • Jesse L. Martin, Thomas B. “Tom” Collins
  • Idina Menzel , Maureen Johnson
  • Adam Pascal, Roger Davis
  • Anthony Rapp, Mark Cohen
  • Tracie Thoms, Joanne Jefferson

Chris Columbus got the idea to give the original cast first dibs on the roles when he talked to Rapp, Pascal and Menzel about the musical and opined that they all still looked the same as when they premiered the show in 1996. Only Daphne Rubin-Vega and Fredi Walker, the original Mimi and Joanne respectively, were not cast in the film. Rubin-Vega was pregnant at the time of casting and (at roughly 35) was too old to play a character of 19. Walker herself has stated that she looks too old to play the part of Joanne.

Taye Diggs’ role as Benny in the Original Broadway Cast of RENT assisted in launching his acting career, which includes the movies How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Chicago, as well as the lead in the critically-acclaimed TV show Kevin Hill.

Idina Menzel (Maureen Johnson) and Taye Diggs (Benjamin “Benny” Coffin III), are a married couple outside of the movie. They originally met during the original 1996 broadway run of Rent, both as a part of the original cast.

Jesse L. Martin and Taye Diggs were both in Ally McBeal – Martin as Dr. Greg Butters and Diggs as Jackson Duper.

Jesse L. Martin had to take leave during the second half of the 2004-05 season of Law & Order to participate in the film.

Anthony Rapp’s first movie, Adventures in Babysitting, was directed by Columbus. He has also acted in a number of other films, including A Beautiful Mind in which he played Bender.

Casting Rumors

Marc Anthony, Wilson Cruz, Frenchie Davis, Joey Fatone, Neil Patrick Harris, Audra McDonald, Brittany Murphy, Jai Rodriguez and Justin Timberlake were rumored to be interested in or considered for roles in the film prior to Chris Columbus becoming director. They were not cast. It was soon after Columbus took over that the decision was made to give the original cast the first shots at their own roles.

Cruz, Davis, Fatone, Harris and Rodriguez previously performed in the stage version at different times.

1996 Original Rent Broadway Musical

Rent is a Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical. It opened in New York City on April 29, 1996, at the Nederlander Theatre and continues to play on Broadway (the seventh-longest running Broadway musical as of March 1, 2006). Based upon Puccini’s opera La bohème, the musical centers on a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive in New York’s Alphabet City neighborhood under the shadow of AIDS (in La bohème the disease was tuberculosis).

The cast album from the show was the most successful recording of an American musical in almost 30 years, featuring both a 2-Disc, “complete recording” collection with a remixed version of the song “Seasons of Love” featuring Stevie Wonder, and a 1-disc “best of” highlights.

Rent was one of the first Broadway musicals that featured some of the first clearly gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender characters on stage. Almost every previous production that dealt with such issues had generally been relegated to off-Broadway venues (an exception is La Cage aux Folles).

Creative Process

Playwright Billy Aronson came up with the original idea to write a musical update of La bohème in 1988. He wanted to create “a musical based on Puccini’s La bohème, in which the luscious splendor of Puccini’s world would be replaced with the coarseness and noise of modern New York.” In 1989 Jonathan Larson, a 29-year-old composer, got together with Aronson to swap ideas. Larson came up with the title and suggested moving the setting from the Upper West Side to downtown, where Larson himself lived. In 1991, he asked Billy if he could use the original concept on which they had collaborated and make Rent his own. They made an agreement that if the show went to Broadway, Aronson would share in the proceeds.

Jonathan Larson lived for Rent for several years, making several rewrites and changes and writing hundreds of songs for the show – 44 are in the final version. Even as the show solidified, it proved intensely popular. Unfortunately, Larson would not live to see its true success: he died from an undiagnosed aortic dissection in the early morning of January 25, 1996, just a few hours after the musical had its final dress rehearsal at the New York Theatre Workshop; the show was to open that very day. It is believed that the defect resulted from Marfan syndrome.

The show did premiere, at the request of Larson’s parents, at the New York Theatre Workshop the very day Jonathan Larson died. That opening night show, according to first-hand accounts of cast and audience members, began as a simple sit-down performance, but around the number “La Vie Boheme A”, the cast began to do the full performance. It was so popular that a move to Broadway was inevitable; it premiered at the previously-derelict Nederlander Theatre, at the time the only Broadway show south of 42nd Street, on April 29, 1996.

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