In the sordid history of Hollywood scandals and production changes, director Ridley Scott and Sony Pictures have entered uncharted territory to deal with the growing allegations and media storm around Kevin Spacey, who plays a central character in their upcoming All the Money in the World—they are going to cut him out of the movie and recast his part with less than two months before its Christmastime release.
Talk about a blue holiday.
The news was broken late Wednesday by Deadline, which first reported that Scott and Sony landed upon the last minute decision over this past weekend after All the Money in the World was pulled from being the closing night gala at AFI Festival. And in a reveal of a “unified front” to the press, the filmmakers have already acquired the support of crew and key cast members, including the main stars of the film, Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg, to reshoot all of the sequences in which Spacey played J Paul Getty, the once richest man in the world.
The decision, apparently realized by Scott as well as Dan Friedkin and Bradly Thomas of Imperative Entertainment, was in reaction to Scott refusing to budge on the movie’s Dec. 22, 2017 release date. And this was for likely a good reason. In addition to taking the film out of awards contention, moving away from December under the taint of scandal would likely have doomed the film to an inevitable obscurity, in which the work of some 800 crew and cast members, as well as hundreds more in Sony marketing, PR, and various other departments, would be covered up by the shadow of Spacey’s allegations.
A film that came together very quickly at the beginning of 2017, All the Money in the World became a fast tracked passion for Scott, who fought to find a way to preserve the overall work and remove the blemish of scandal in a rather unorthodox manner. It likely helps that Spacey was a supporting role in the film, having apparently shot all of his scenes in a matter of eight to 10 days. Presumably, an actor of Christopher Plummer’s stature can fill the same role in a similar amount of time, albeit the editing process to make it lineup with the rest of the picture in such a short window is hardly enviable.
In the film, Spacey’s lost and Plummer’s current role is a figure that looms large throughout the movie, even when he is off-screen (just check out the poster above). The film follows the true story of the John Paul Getty III kidnapping. The youth was taken in 1973, and despite being the (apparently callow) grandson of the then richest man in the world, J Paul Getty (Plummer), the old man on the proverbial mountain refused to pay the ransom. This left the boy’s mother, a non-Getty who has since divorced out of the family (Williams) to seek other ways to raise the money that will set her son free.
There is definitely something remarkable about filmmakers taking back control of the narrative and actually shunning those in power—if only after they’ve lost that power—but this is definitely a precedent in moviemaking. It also might suggest a reversal of the fear that powerful men use to intimidate those without: you are replaceable.
All the Money in the World, it turns out, will make its release date with Christopher Plummer to boot on Dec. 22.