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Musical Adaptation of EMPIRE RECORDS Is In the Works!

In honor of Rex Manning Day this Sunday, April 8, producer BILL WEINER just announced the acquisition of the theatrical stage rights to the beloved cult-hit 1995 film EMPIRE RECORDS, with plans to adapt the story for the Broadway stage as a musical. The film's original writer Carol Heikkinen (Center Stage) will adapt her screenplay for the stage, with new music and lyrics by Zoe Sarnak, the 2018 Jonathan Larson Grant winner for her upcoming musical Afterwords. Empire Records is targeting a 2020 premiere, in celebration of the film's 25th anniversary.

Released in 1995 by New Regency, the film Empire Records starred Liv Tyler, Renée Zellweger, Anthony LaPaglia, Robin Tunney, Rory Cochrane, Ethan Embry and Johnny Whitworth, directed by Allan Moyle. The film quickly cemented its status as a cult classic, and nearly 25 years later, it is still hailed by BuzzFeed as "the film of a generation" and "the teen-movie equivalent of the mid-'90s alt-rock zeitgeist... a film that managed, however oddly, to capture the ineffable feeling of being a quasi-alienated teenager in a very specific time."

Empire Records, last of the independent small-town record stores, employs a tight-knit group of music-savvy youths. Hearing that the shop may be sold to a big chain, slacker employee Lucas places a big bet with a chunk of the store's money, hoping to get a big return and save the store. When the plan fails, Empire Records falls into serious trouble, and the teens must find a way to fend off the encroaching Music Town overlords.

"The movie was really about a family that formed among these minimum-wage record clerks," said Carol Heikkinen. "There's a lot of nostalgia now for those old record stores where you could go and talk to people who loved the same music you loved, and discover new bands. We hope the musical will capture the memory of what it was like to be young in a time before iTunes and Spotify - music is such an important part of the youth experience, and it's what brings these characters together. Zoe's the perfect partner for this; the movie was part of her adolescence and she not only gets the music, but the themes of friendship and family. "

"I first saw Empire Records when my older sister brought it home on VHS - I remember sneaking into the TV room while she was watching it with her friends," saidZoe Sarnak. "Over the years, I watched it again and again because that cast - those characters - were my idea of the coolest misfits. Teenagers who loved music as much as I did, and still do. The film's music so iconically captured the sound of that decade - a sound that has indelibly shaped my own aesthetic."

Bill Weiner, who jumpstarted New Regency's theatrical stage business and served as the studio's Executive Vice President and General Counsel for 23 years, said "I am beyond thrilled to bring this iconic film to the Broadway stage. As a film, Empire Records captured the hearts of millions of Americans, and I am so excited for Carol's words and vision to be brought together with Zoe's incredible music and lyrics. They both have such a passion for the story and its time."

The production's director and additional creative team members will be announced at a later date.


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