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Rent is a American film adaptation of the Broadway musical, which was based on Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning musical. This musical-based movie details of a couple of Bohemians and their struggles with sexuality, drugs, living under the shadow of AIDS, and of course, paying their rent. It takes place in the East Village area of New York City in the late 1980s. The film, directed by Chris Columbus, had six of the original Broadway cast members reprising their roles.


The film's plot is largely identical to that of the original Broadway musicalmarker, although there are several minor differences between the two resulting from the filmmakers' decision to omit several songs from the original musical and to change some of the spoken dialogue.

After an introduction with the cast singing "Seasons of Love", the film opens on Christmas Eve, 1989, with apartment tenants (including two friends and roommates, Mark (Anthony Rapp) and Roger (Adam Pascal) expressing their anger at suddenly being asked to pay the rent, which had previously been waived by their friend. Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin), a former roommate of Mark's and friend to both Mark and Roger, returns from out of town and is attacked by three men and left for dead in an alley ("Rent"). Benjamin Coffin III (Taye Diggs), also known as Benny, the landlord and former roommate of Mark, Roger, and Collins, who has married into a wealthy family, offers to give Mark and Roger free rent again if they can convince Maureen (Idina Menzel) (Mark's ex-girlfriend) to stop her protest. The protest is to take place at Maureen's performance space, which Benny is planning to turn into a cyber-studio ("You'll See"). A street drummer, Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), finds Collins in the alleyway and leads him away to get him cleaned up. Angel also mentions that he will soon be attending a Life Support meeting, telling Collins that he has AIDS, to which Collins simply replies, "Me too."

Mark leaves the apartment to search for Collins. He suggests that Roger come as well so they could go to dinner afterward, but Roger replies sarcastically and stays home. He goes onto the roof and sings of his desire to write one final song before dying of AIDS ("One Song Glory"). In flashbacks, we learn that Roger was a drug addict and see his girlfriend receive her HIV-positive results. Roger returns to the loft, and a woman who lives downstairs, Mimi, enters. She flirts with him, asking for a match to light her candle. ("Light My Candle"). It is revealed that Roger's girlfriend, April, died. Mimi is a heroin addict and an exotic dancer at the Cat Scratch Club. She drops her stash of drugs and Roger tries to hide it from her, but she distracts him and leaves triumphantly with her stash.

The next day, Collins appears at the loft with a bottle of vodka. He, Mark, and Roger mention that he had been away at MIT for the past seven months, but he was forced to leave because of his theory of actual reality. He has a new job at New York University, and Mark guesses that this is why he could afford the vodka. Collins contradicts him, and introduces Angel, who enters the loft wearing a bobbed wig, high-heeled boots, and a Santa dress. She hands Mark and Roger money, and explains that she earned it by drumming until a dog jumped off the twenty-third floor of a building ("Today 4 U").This dog is later discovered to be that of Benny. Mark gets a call from Maureen and agrees to visit her in order to fix her sound equipment. Angel and Collins invite both boys to the Life Support meeting. Roger stays home, but Mark promises to come once he has fixed Maureen's equipment. Mark goes to the performance space, where he finds Maureen's girlfriend, Joanne. While initially awkward, Joanne and Mark bond as he works on the repairs and they discuss Maureen's cheating habits ("Tango: Maureen").

Mark enters the Life Support meeting late, causing a small disturbance. He is obviously uncomfortable surrounded by so many AIDS patients, but after a moment he relaxes and asks if he could film parts of the meeting for his documentary. One member, Gordon, expresses his initial distrust of the program but how he has learned to accept it "because reason says [he] should have died three years ago." The group sings of their desire to live every day to the fullest ("Life Support). That night, the film focuses on Mimi at the club where she works. She is eager to go out, and ends up at the loft, again flirting with Roger ("Out Tonight"). Roger throws her off and rebukes her for using heroin and intruding on him. Mimi tries to persuade him otherwise, using the Life Support slogan "No day but today," but Roger throws her out. While they sing to each other, Collins, Angel, and Mark appear and stand with Mimi. Roger is unshakeable, and Angel comforts Mimi ("Another Day").

The next morning is another Life Support meeting. There the people begin to question how their lives would continue now that they have the AIDS virus ("Will I?") During this, Roger joins the group, much to Angel's, Collins', and Mark's joy. On the way back to their apartments, the four friends find a homeless woman being abused by a police officer and they aid her (on film), only for her to reprimand Mark for making a name for himself on film using her life. On a subway train, they talk about leaving New York and going out to Santa Femarker and opening a restaurant ("Santa Fe"). After the subway ride, Mark and Roger go off to help Joanne at the lot where a protest Maureen is staging will take place. Walking down the streets, Collins and Angel express their love for each other in song and Angel buys Collins a new coat ("I'll Cover You").

Maureen's protest happens later the same night ("Over the Moon"). Benny has put the police on standby, which proves to be a mistake on his part. There is a riot, which causes Maureen to get even angrier with him. The same night at the Life Cafe, everyone meets up. Mark reveals that he got the riot on film and sold it to the news and how the show Buzzline wants to put it on their show. Benny tells everyone that he is sorry (with the unmoved Maureen telling him to "go to hell" and another character calling him a 'jerk') and that the reason his wife was not there was that there was a death in the family. It turns out to be his dog, an Akita. Mark and Roger face each other and exclaim "Evita!"--the dog that Angel offed earlier. Benny tells the group that they need to grow up and start being responsible and questions them if they really want to continue living like they are, leading to more-or-less of a riot, with the characters shouting out what inspires them, starting with Mark saying a eulogy for 'dead' Bohemia. Maureen and Joanne disgust Benny and the other men ("La Vie Bohème"). Roger's beeper goes off, signaling his next AZT dose and thus showing Mimi that he has HIV.Mimi reveals that she too has HIV. Roger and Mimi express their love for each other outside the cafe, sharing secrets and fears for the first time ("I Should Tell You"). The two re-enter the cafe and celebrate their newfound relationship as the celebration continues ("La Vie Bohème B").

The movie continues on New Year's Eve. The group is celebrating, only to return home and find that Benny has padlocked the door. Angel breaks the lock with a garbage can, when they discover that he also took all of their possessions. In order to get some money, Mark takes a job at a mainstream news company, Buzzline. Joanne and Maureen accompany him, and Joanne gets upset when she sees Maureen flirting with a receptionist. On the street, Maureen demands to know what she did wrong. Joanne says that all she wants is commitment. Maureen responds by kneeling and putting one of her rings on Joanne's finger. The next scene is at a fancy club, where Joanne's parents are hosting an engagement party for the two women. Joanne gets angry when Maureen flirts with another women, and the two have an argument. Maureen wants Joanne to loosen up and understand that she's only having fun, while Joanne wants Maureen to follow the rules of relationships that Joanne lives by and stop mocking her for her Type-A personality. The two end the relationship ("Take Me or Leave Me").

Everyone except Maureen and Joanne return to the loft, where Benny is waiting. He has returned all of their things and offered to let Mark and Roger live in the apartment for free. Seeing it as a publicity stunt, Mark refuses, but Roger is bothered by the fact that Mimi was the one who convinced Benny to forgo the rent. They had previously been in a romantic relationship, and, despite her protests that it was over months ago, he is visibly distrustful. During the next song, "Without You," we watch as Mimi and Roger struggle with Mimi's withdrawal. Members of Life Support fade, indicating their death, and Collins takes Angel to the hospital, shivering violently on the subway. Roger finds Mimi with her drug dealer, and they break up. Angel dies in Collins' arms at the hospital.

The next scene is Angel's funeral in a large church. Mimi, Mark, and Maureen reflect on special moments they shared with Angel, and Collins sings the song that he and Angel sang together ("I'll Cover You (Reprise)"). After the funeral, Roger and Mimi argue about their past relationship, as do Joanne and Maureen. In their argument, Roger reveals that he has sold his guitar, bought a car, and is planning to leave for Santa Fe ("Goodbye Love"). At the end of "Goodbye Love", Joanne starts to cry. Maureen steps forward and wipes away her tears.

After Roger arrives in Santa Fe, he discovers that he still loves Mimi, cannot stand to be away from her, and decides to return. During this time, Mark decides to finish his own film and quits his job at Buzzline ("What You Own"). However, after Roger returns he finds out that Mimi has quit rehab and has gone missing. On Christmas Eve, the year after everyone met, Collins returns to the apartment for a visit. Mark throws him the keys teasing him to 'try not to get your ass kicked this time'. Collins gives them some money and when asked about where he got it, he reveals that he has rewired an ATM at the local supermarket to produce some cash whenever someone inputs the code 'A-N-G-E-L'. Joanne and Maureen find Mimi at a park. She had been living on the streets. She is fading fast and is brought up to the apartment. As Mimi fades, she and Roger reconcile their past, and Mimi finally tells Roger that she loves him ("Finale A"). As she is about to die, Roger sings the song he has been writing over the last year. As he ends the final verse, Mimi appears to die and Roger screams out her name ("Your Eyes").

Soon, however, Mimi regains consciousness, explaining that she saw Angel, who told her "turn around girlfriend, and listen to that boy's song." The six friends, having their faith in life restored, perform the final song ("Finale B") with Angel's voice heard throughout the song as well. During this Mark's documentary, entitled "Today 4 U: Proof Positive" (named after the song Angel had sung early on), is shown. The last frame is of Angel, out of his drag queen persona but still wearing women's make-up and manicured nails, giving the camera a small smile.


Principal characters

All but two principal members of the original Broadway cast reprised their roles on film. Chris Columbus got the idea to give the original cast first dibs on the roles when he talked to Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal and Idina Menzel about the musical and felt 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 were not cast in the film. Daphne Rubin-Vega was seven months pregnant at the time of filming and was not able to reprise her role as Mimi. Fredi Walker said that she felt too old for the role but insisted that she wanted a woman of African-American descent to play the part of Joanne.

Supporting characters


Rent was filmed in Super 35 mm film format. Many exterior shots were filmed in New York City, specifically East Village; the interior and remaining exterior shots were filmed in San Franciscomarker, San Diegomarker, the famed Filolimarker House in Woodside, Californiamarker (San Mateo County, Californiamarker), Oaklandmarker, and Santa Femarker, New Mexico.

Until 2001, Spike Lee was to direct the film for Miramax. However, budgetary constraints and Lee's insistence on engaging celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Brittany Murphy stalled the project for a time.

In October 2004, Revolution Studios recovered the project, with Chris Columbus as the director and Columbia Pictures as the distributor. Columbus, himself an NYUmarker 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. He can actually be seen in the beginning as an irritated driver who finds his car windshield being washed.

The first trailer for the film featuring the song "Seasons of Love" surfaced on various Rent fan sites in early June 2005. The trailer was said to be shown before the films Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Crash in select cities beginning June 3, 2005. reported that the trailer would officially be released June 7, 2005, exclusively on America Online; the movie's official blog announced it would also air during the June 7 episode of Access Hollywood.

A second trailer was released on August 25, 2005, which featured some dialog from the film as well as music from the second part of the finale ("Finale B"). A third trailer aired during the September 2005 season premiere of Nip/Tuck, which contained new footage set again to "Seasons of Love."

The film's limited release date in New York Citymarker, Los Angelesmarker, and Torontomarker on November 11, 2005 was canceled, and the official premiere was at New York's Ziegfeld Theatre.


In the US, the film has officially been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for "mature thematic material involving drugs and sexuality, and for some strong language". The rating was actually taken into consideration with creative decisions during script writing and filming. Even with changes (such as removing pervasive profanity), director Chris Columbus still expresses amazement that the film received a "PG-13" due to risqué scenes and content. In Quebec, it is rated PG. In the UK, the film was rated 12A by the BBFC.

In Ireland, the film is rated 15A by the Irish Film Classification Office on account of the scenes of hard drug use, a mugging scene, and some sexual referencesIn Australia, the film is rated M.


The movie earned mixed reviews, as indicated by its "rotten" 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus of the reviewers featured on Rotten Tomatoes is "Fans of the stage musical may forgive its flaws, but weak direction, inescapable staginess and an irritating faux-boho pretension prevent the film from truly connecting on screen."

It had the third-highest grossing opening weekend for a Broadway musical adaptation, surpassed only by the 2007 version of the film Hairspray and The Phantom of the Opera, released the year before.

This film was nominated for a number of awards, including a GLAAD Media Award for Best Picture Musical/Comedy. Rosario Dawson was also nominated for, and won, a Satellite Award for Most Outstanding Actress, and Christopher Columbus for Most Outstanding Director. Additionally, Rosario Dawson was nominated for Best Actress by the NAACP Image Awards.

Alternate ending

In addition to four deleted scenes, the DVD release includes an alternate ending, showing all the main characters except Angel standing in the positions where they were during the "Seasons of Love" opening, all standing in a line of spotlights, with Angel's spot empty. Later in the scene, he enters from the side and walks down the line to take his place, stopping as he passes Collins to take his hand for a moment, giving a touching moment. The musical has this effect at the end when they all line up. It was dropped because they feared audiences wouldn't understand why Angel was back or they were lined up again.

Differences between the stage and movie versions

  • As in the original musical, the story of the film spans the course of one year. The musical only stated that the action begins and ends on a December 24 and was meant to be the present; however, the movie provides precise yearly dates for the story (1989 to 1990). This creates some inconsistencies within the text of the film; for example, the song "Today 4 U" contains a reference to the film Thelma and Louise, which was not released until 1991, and the song "Over The Moon" makes apparent references to the Oklahoma City bombingmarker which did not occur until 1995. Columbus has said that these specific dates were included because he intended for the action of the film to be taking place prior to the 1990s gentrification of Manhattanmarker's East Villagemarker, the neighborhood in which the movie is set.
  • Many of the original songs from Broadway were cut in order to add dialogue to the film and make the flow of the plot seem more natural, whereas on Broadway, it is a rock opera with very little spoken dialogue. Not included in the film, some songs from the musical include “You Okay Honey?,” “Christmas Bells,” “Happy New Year A & B,” “Contact,” “We’re Okay,” along with “Tune Ups #1-3” and all of the answering machine messages. Some sections of the previous songs were transformed into spoken dialogue for entertainment purposes. A solo by Mark, "Halloween", was filmed, but cut because it did not "fit in with the pacing" of the film. "Goodbye Love" was filmed in its entirety, but the second half was cut from the film because Columbus considered it somewhat of an emotional overload, as he stated on the DVD's commentary track. Both scenes are on the second disc of the DVD set as special features.
  • There were three other deleted scenes featured on the DVD. One is an extended version of the scene just before "Without You" where Mimi, Roger, and Benny have an intense argument, and Angel graciously tries to calm them down only to accidentally imply that he may have been involved with the death of Benny's dog. This scene was cut because Columbus did not want to dwell on Mimi & Benny's relationship at that particular moment. Another is a small scene right before the second part of "Goodbye Love" where Benny pays for Angel's funeral; Collins tells Benny that he just paid for the funeral of the person that killed his dog, but Benny reveals that he was aware of this and expresses dislike for the dog. The scene was cut because it was a humorous moment that took the "tension" out of the preceding scene. The final deleted scene is where Roger meets Benny at the Life Cafe and learns that Benny just wanted to be a friend to Mimi, who still loves Roger.
  • The film includes a scene of an engagement party (hosted by Joanne's parents) between Maureen and Joanne that culminates in the song "Take Me or Leave Me" and the breakup of Maureen and Joanne's relationship. In the original musical, there was no engagement party scene, and the fateful argument between Maureen and Joanne took place while the two of them were rehearsing for another protest. In addition, in the film, Joanne's parents and Maureen's parents are shown, with Joanne's father giving a toast to Joanne and Maureen. In the musical, Joanne's parents are heard and seen in a spotlight (Voicemail #2) and Maureen's parents are never introduced.
  • In the musical, Benny padlocks the apartment building immediately after the protest, and the friends spend New Year's Eve trying to break back in, with Joanne, Maureen and Mark breaking through a window while Angel uses a blowtorch to break the padlock. In the movie, the building is not found to be padlocked until New Year's Day, with Angel breaking it with a garbage can. In both scenes, Benny arrives shortly after and restores the power.
  • In the song "Out Tonight" from the film, Mimi states, "We won't be back before it's New Year's Day!" while in the musical, Mimi states, "We won't be back before it's Christmas Day!" This is because Act I of the musical takes place over the course of one night, and in the movie is over three days. Similarly, before "Today 4 U," in the movie, Collins sings, "Gentlemen, our benefactor on this Christmas Day/Whose charity is only met by talent, I must say" while in the stage version, it is "Gentlemen, our benefactor on this Christmas Eve/Whose charity is only met by talent, I believe" once again because of the time span changes.
  • The film also leaves ambiguous the death of Roger's girlfriend April, who dies before Rent begins. In the film, she is seen reading a doctor's report that she is HIV positive; it is stated that she has died, but nothing more is said. In the stage version, Mark explicitly states that April committed suicide by slitting her wrists in the bathroom, and Roger found out about his HIV in the suicide note.
  • The song "You'll See" occurs after the titular piece "Rent" in the movie version, while it appears after "Today 4 U" in the musical. This is because Chris Columbus wanted Benny to be involved in the story earlier.
  • In the musical, the audience does not see Maureen until the finale of Act I, where she rides in on a motorcycle and performs her "Over the Moon" number. They do see in her silhouette once, however. In the movie, she is first seen in the opening Seasons of Love number, and than again in "Tango: Maureen", when Mark and Joanne dance and see her cheating on Joanne. Before and after the "Tango: Maureen" number, Maureen's voice is heard - first she calls Mark, and afterwards - Joanne. With both of them she talks about preparations for her show.
  • There were many costume changes in the movie from the original Broadway production. Just a few examples:
    • Angel: In the play, Angel's everyday outfit consists of his wig, several lightly-colored flowers worn in the wig, a zip-up green, yellow, and orange sweater with a teal leopard-print collar, his floral skirt, zebra-print tights, platform heels, and sometimes a Santa jacket as a coat. In the movie, it consists of the wig, one red flower, the sweater, the skirt, light green tights that have pictures on them, the heels, and a red jacket that is worn in outdoor scenes. During "Today 4 U" in the play, the outfit is the Santa jacket worn over the everyday outfit, while in the movie, it is nothing but the jacket, zebra-print tights, and a pair of knee-high, laced-up, platform-heel boots.
    • Mark: In the play, Mark wears a red, black, and white plaid coat, as well as a dark blue and white scarf. The movie shows Mark in a brown coat and a gray and white scarf. (The color of the scarf was allegedly changed because the white was too intense for the camera.)
    • Originally, Joanne wore a black and white coat with a pattern of lines on it many times throughout the play, but the coat was absent completely in the movie
    • In the play, Mimi wears an ensemble during "Out Tonight" that consists of tight blue pants, a silver midriff top, and a cropped jacket with boots. In the movie, however, she wears the boots along with a bikini.
  • The film opens with "Seasons of Love", whereas Act II starts with it in the musical version.
  • Finally, the time span between Mimi's relationship with Benny and Mimi's relationship with Roger is changed from 3 months to 2 years.

Home release

Rent was released on DVD in the United States (Region 1) on February 21, 2006, in 2-disc fullscreen and 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen formats. DVD extras include an audio commentary with director Chris Columbus, Anthony Rapp, and Adam Pascal as well as a new feature-length "making of" documentary, deleted scenes, and musical performances, a documentary on the life of the original playwright Jonathan Larson, and PSA's. Automat Pictures produced this benefit content.

Rent was released on DVD in the United Kingdom (Region 2) on August 14, 2006, in dual-layer 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen format (rated 12 by the BBFC). The "making of" documentary is not available for this version; instead, there are trailers for other Sony Pictures DVDs (such as MirrorMask and The Producers).

A Blu-ray version of Rent was released on December 11, 2007.


The soundtrack was released September 23, 2005 in single- (17 tracks) and 2-disc (28 tracks) editions. The single-disc edition is a Selections Soundtrack.


  1. RENT
  2. IFCO's rating for Rent
  4. Rent (2005) - Goofs

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