THE BREAKFAST CLUB, a coming-of-age story set in a day of high school detention, is edited by AFI Honorary Degree recipient Dede Allen. Director John Hughes and producer Ned Tanen both trained AFI Fellows at Harold Lloyd Master Seminars.

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THE BREAKFAST CLUB was to be the directorial debut of filmmaker John Hughes. He offered the script to A&M Films in 1982 and agreed to make the film for $1 million, limiting production to one location with an ensemble cast. However, the project was put on hold, and Hughes wrote four feature films in 1982 and 1984 – including what would become his first film, SIXTEEN CANDLES – before finally revisiting THE BREAKFAST CLUB.


THE BREAKFAST CLUB was originally titled DETENTION, but John Hughes changed the name after hearing a friend’s teenage son call his school’s morning detention class “The Breakfast Club”.


With the commercial success of MR. MOM – for which he had written the screenplay – John Hughes was offered a three-year, $30 million deal with Universal Pictures. Producer Ned Tanen, who had recently left his presidency at Universal, agreed to absorb THE BREAKFAST CLUB in the agreement provided that SIXTEEN CANDLES be released first.


John Cusack was originally cast as John Bender, but when production was delayed for SIXTEEN CANDLES, Cusack was replaced by Judd Nelson. Around this time, Molly Ringwald, who was originally slated to play Allison Reynolds, insisted on taking on the role of Claire Standish instead, and the role of Allison went to Ally Sheedy.


Principal photography for THE BREAKFAST CLUB took place at the abandoned Maine North High School in Des Plaines, IL. The school gymnasium was used as the soundstage for the construction of the film’s central location – a two-story library – as well as the director’s office. The high school also housed editing facilities, a screening room, and production offices.


Production designer Jennifer Polito has made six films with John Hughes. THE BREAKFAST CLUB marked his second production with the filmmaker.


THE BREAKFAST CLUB was selected for preservation by the Nation Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 2016.


THE BREAKFAST CLUB was made on a budget of $1 million but grossed over $50 million worldwide at the box office. It was re-released in over 400 theaters on its 30th anniversary in 2015.

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The Movie Doesn’t End in the Credits: Family Discussion Questions

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-THE BREAKFAST CLUB came out at a time when there was a dearth of films told from the point of view of teenagers, and most of those that existed focused on a boy’s point of view. John Hughes deviated from the norm by creating female leads who navigated the rough waters of high school – as with SIXTEEN CANDLES, PRETTY IN PINK and THE BREAKFAST CLUB. How do you think Hughes navigates these stories as a male filmmaker? Do its female protagonists seem authentic to you?

-Molly Ringwald’s Claire Standish endures a barrage of sexual harassment from her classmate, John Bender, and ends up satisfying his negative attention with a kiss and a diamond earring. What does this communicate about the role of gender in high school? Do you think Claire would really fall in love with John? What do you think of John Hughes’ storytelling in a post #MeToo world?

-THE BREAKFAST CLUB explores stereotypes of teenagers that provide clear identities to the five main characters – the Mastermind, the Athlete, the Basket Case, the Princess and the Criminal – and yet each teenager goes through transformation to explore the limits of their own comfort zones. Can you relate to any of these guys? Do you find them sympathetic in their isolation and in their collective efforts to outsmart their principal? Does your impression of the characters change during the film?

-THE BREAKFAST CLUB follows a weekend detention day for five high school teenagers who are trapped in a library, but instead of reading, they end up ripping pages out of books. What does this tell you about their interest in literacy and their preference for learning more about each other?

-How would you rate THE BREAKFAST CLUB?

In this exclusive AFI Archive video, John Hughes talks about the cast of THE BREAKFAST CLUB:

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