When it was announced that director Ridley Scott would be removing Kevin Spacey from his upcoming biopic, All The Money In The World, a sizeable shockwave reverberated through the film industry and its consumers. The idea that a hitherto Hollywood powerhouse could so easily and quickly be excised from the firmament seemed to send an important, laudable, and long-overdue message – that abusive behaviour is intolerable, and nobody is above being replaced. This message only gains power now that it’s becoming clear just how much this act of replacement is going to cost the studio.
All The Money In The World is written by David Scarpa and is based on the book Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes Of The Heirs Of J. Paul Getty, by John Pearson. The movie specifically dramatizes the events of 1973, when then teenage John Paul Getty III was kidnapped by an organized crime group and mutilated, while his mother desperately tried to encourage her son’s grandfather – oil tycoon J. Paul Getty – to pay the ransom being demanded. The role of J. Paul Getty was filled by Kevin Spacey, until an avalanche of sexual assault and harassment allegations against him – from the 1980s to the present day – made him unemployable in the entertainment industry.
As a result, and with no discernible equivocation whatsoever – Ridley Scott made the decision to completely remove Spacey from the film. This move was made in spite of the fact that the pic was little more than five weeks away from its scheduled, awards-season-friendly release date of December 22nd. The role of J. Paul Getty will now be entirely reshot with Christopher Plummer delivering his own portrayal of the wealthy but problematic legend.
Variety reports that the situation is expected to add over $10 million to the cost of the production. This number will include Christopher Plummer’s fee – for what is anticipated to be 8-10 days of shooting; the cost of bringing actors Mark Walhberg and Michelle Williams back for unexpected reshoots beyond those already covered in their contracts; the cost of the crew for those additional shooting days; additional editing; and the necessary overhaul of marketing and promotional materials. The outlet makes it clear that these costs are unlikely to be covered by insurance, and so will be largely ‘out-of-pocket.’
The move to foot the enormous bill of removing Kevin Spacey from All The Money In The World is obviously in service of the desire to ensure the commercial success of the movie, and maintain its chances of winning awards. Certainly, both of those considerations would be jeopardized if Spacey remained in the role.
But, regardless of the financial motivation, the fact remains that the apparent ease with which this previously respected actor has been dropped should strike fear into the hearts of other abusive figures in the industry – whether they have been revealed yet, or not. Ridley Scott’s decision here – backed by Sony – increases the pressure on other creators and studios to isolate figures whose behaviour causes untold harm to others, and that’s a stance that should be welcomed.