In a monumental and expensive move, Ridley Scott will remove embattled actor Kevin Spacey from his finished thriller All the Money in the World just weeks before the film's release.
Christopher Plummer will now play J. Paul Getty in the story about the infamous 1973 kidnapping of his grandson, 16-year-old John Paul Getty III.
The movie, which was pulled as the closing-night screening of AFI Fest at Scott's insistence, is scheduled to hit theaters Dec. 22 via Sony's TriStar. As of now, the release date remains unchanged despite the reshoots, but insiders say that if anyone can pull off reshoots and still make the holiday release date, it's Scott.
The filmmaker made the decision with Imperative Entertainment, which produced and helped finance the movie, and only notified Sony of his decision late Wednesday afternoon, according to sources familiar with the situation, adding that Plummer was originally the first choice for the role, but top studio executives wanted a bigger name.
Spacey shot a total of eight days and many of his scenes featured just him. Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams also star in the feature, as J. Paul Getty's lawyer and daughter, and the two are expected to come back for reshoots.
It is not clear how Scott will produce the Spacey-Plummer swap, but bringing back the actors for filming and finishing the movie on this razor-tight schedule is an enormous undertaking. Another equally complicated option may be the use of delicate visual effects work. One challenge for such VFX work is that many of Spacey’s scenes were shot in different locations.
VFX house MPC — which was the lead VFX house on last year’s visual effects Oscar winner The Jungle Book — is working on All the Money in the World. (Other VFX houses may also be involved). Depending on the complexity and number of shots in which the character appears, it is possible that digital compositing could place Plummer into some existing shots.
Such techniques have been used in unique situations to finish other films, although the current situation is virtually unprecedented.
All the Money in the World is the latest project to distance itself from Spacey. Netflix announced that the sixth season of House of Cards has suspended production and, on Friday, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the production is actively reworking the final season of the drama so that Spacey will be written out. Additionally, the streamer abandoned their plans for the Spacey-led Gore Vidal biopic Gore.
Allegations against Spacey began nearly two weeks ago, when actor Anthony Rapp told BuzzFeed News the actor made sexual advances toward him when he was just 14 years old. Since then, several more individuals have come forward to recount their own experience with the actor, including a former TV anchor Heather Unruh, who alleged that Spacey sexually assaulted her 18-year-old son just last year. "I have wanted to say something for a very long time, especially moments like when Kevin Spacey has the honor of hosting something like the Tony Awards and is celebrated as a man and an actor," said Unruh.
A London bartender also told his story in an interview with the BBC, claiming that Spacey groped him. "At the afterparty, I was sitting on a sofa with my then sort-of girlfriend. She got up to get a drink, and Kevin Spacey sat down on the sofa next to me," said Kris Nixon, a former bartender near the Old Vic theater, where Spacey was creative director. "He asked if that was my girlfriend, then reached over, grabbed my penis and said, 'I could fuck you better than her.'"