If you’ve been following the publicity behind All the Money in the World, you’ll have heard that it cost $50 million to make – as well as the problems which beset the movie. It’s almost as if the movie was cursed. Maybe it is – it’s based on the real-life kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson, and Getty was the richest man in the world when it happened way back in 1973.

Ridley Scott, the poor director, has had to cope with problem after problem – all happening within months of the movie’s release.

When it rains, it pours.

Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

From Kevin Spacey to Christopher Plummer – the casting and recasting of J. Paul Getty

First, Kevin Spacey got fired – AFTER the movie had been filmed. His fall from grace came after a volley of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against him came to light starting in October 2017 (he was fired in November 2017).

And his role was no bit part – he played J. Paul Getty, the grandfather of the kidnap victim. He’s in a major supporting role. So that meant they had to reshoot many scenes. Amazingly, both Spacey and Plummer took only 10 days each to film all their scenes. When you consider how many different locations they had shot in, the sheer number of scenes that had to complete, and the complex dialogue and interactions they had, it’s no mean feat.

But the logistical mess that must have come along with coordinating all the locations, crew, cast, and recreating sets to maintain continuity… that must have been crappy.

Fortunately, they had Christopher Plummer step into the role of J. Paul Getty. While Christopher Plummer may not look as evil as Kevin Spacey, he is much older and adds a more patriarchal feel to the role. Kevin Spacey may have shown us the money-minded, almost cruel side of J. Paul Getty, but Christopher Plummer focused on the stern and condescending side of the old man instead. Notably, Plummer’s performance has earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) and Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) investigate in All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) and Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) investigate in All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

A hurried reshoot

After recasting J. Paul Getty, they proceeded with reshoots from 20 to 29 Nov (10 days), and managed to get Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg on board as well (for a fee, but we’ll come to that later).

That might seem normal – if not for the fact that the film was going to premiere on 18 December. In the same year.

So in 19 days, they had to:

  • re-edit the film
  • colour grade the film (to give it that stylised, vintage look you see in cinemas)
  • process the audio (so it all sounds consistent)
  • export it to different formats
  • deliver it to all the cinemas
  • generate new marketing materials, posters, and such

All of this had to be done with no margin for error. And because there were only 19 days, they couldn’t go back and do pick-ups (industry term for new shots needed to replace or improve existing shots). So if the actors made any mistakes or any shots were flubbed, the director and editor had to make do (or hide it, somehow).

In fact, Ridley Scott had to keep one shot of Kevin Spacey (from the back), because he had no time to reshoot that scene. He openly admitted that it’s the wide shot of J. Paul Getty getting off a train in the middle of a desert, and he had no time to fly Christopher Plummer there just to shoot that one scene.

But what about all the other desert scenes, you ask?

They could have built a smaller desert set and used a green screen to recreate the background. But if an entire wide shot were artificially created using green screen, it would either be incredibly expensive (for the visual effects) or look artificial (if budget was a concern).

Even with all these constraints, editor Claire Simpson managed to achieve a beautiful cut of the film that’s both engaging and cinematic. If nobody had told you that half of the film had to be reshot to replace a particular actor, you wouldn’t even have noticed.

Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) and Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) discuss the kidnapping in All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) and Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) discuss the kidnapping in All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Diva alert!

So far so good? All the problems settled? Yes, well, except for a particular diva on set.

Mark Wahlberg.

He reportedly vetoed Christopher Plummer being recast as J. Paul Getty – unless he (Wahlberg) was paid for the reshoots.

Now, you might think that’s a little strange. Why would Mark Wahlberg have the power to decide who could star in the film? Isn’t that the director’s decision?

It turns out that Mark Wahlberg had co-star approval in his contract – meaning he could decide who he did or didn’t want to act with. And his issues with Christopher Plummer also meant that he could negotiate for more pay for the reshoots – to the tune of $1.5 million dollars.

Mark Wahlberg’s a good actor – but he’s not better than Michelle Williams. He performed admirably in All the Money in the World– not as amazing as his performance in Ted (and Ted 2), but not as gratingly irritating as his performance in Transformers: Age of Extinction (and Transformers: The Last Knight) (no seriously, you just want Mark Wahlberg’s character to trampled to death in the Transformers movies).

Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) gives an official statement in All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) gives an official statement in All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Income inequality

So Mark Wahlberg got paid $1.5 million for the reshoot, which works out to be about $150,000 a day (assuming he worked for all 10 days of the shoot). That’s a pretty high salary – I wish I could earn $150,000 in a day.

But his co-star, Michelle Williams, was only paid $80 per diem (so it’s a daily rate).

$80 vs $150,000 is a huge disparity. Perhaps Wahlberg had better agents and lawyers working for him, but still – how do you negotiate to be paid almost 2,000 times what your co-star is paid?

There’s also the small fact that Michelle Williams delivers a far more stirring performance than he does. Her role as the mother of Getty’s kidnapped grandson does allow her to showcase a greater range of emotions, but Mark Wahlberg doesn’t top his co-star’s performances in the film.

Anyway, when the wage disparity was exposed by the media, he donated $1.5 million to the Legal Defense Fund of Time’s Up (an anti-sexual harassment movement that also handles gender inequality issues) in Michelle Williams’ name. It smells like such a blatant publicity move that you don’t really feel it’s sincere – but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) teaches his grandson in All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) teaches his grandson in All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Earnings?

All the Money in the World cost $50 million to make (the reshoots made up about $10 million of the budget).

Currently, though, it has grossed $39.2 million.

Given that it’s premiered for more than a month (although not in every part of the world yet), that looks worrying. It might be critically acclaimed, but the commercial aspect of the film is still floundering.

Which is a pity, because it’s an incredibly powerful story about the richest cheapskate in the world. Even aunties like Liang Xi Mei can’t bargain like J. Paul Getty does. Neither are they as stingy as he is (he installed a pay phone in his house so that guests wouldn’t have to use his phones).

All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

All the Money in the World. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Was All the Money in the World worth all the hassle it went through?

Yes.

It might be a rather long movie, but there’s no denying the magnificent performances put in by the three major cast members – Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, and Michelle Williams.

It’s not just about the acting though – the film manages to keep you hooked by adding dramatic twists and turns, as well as some rather bloody scenes. The music is also fantastic. And then there’s this whole scene where [spoiler alert] J. Paul Getty’s grandson’s ear gets slowly, bloodily, and painfully chopped off by his kidnappers [spoiler alert] that has your skin crawling.

The film has garnered many favourable reviews, both from critics and on Rotten Tomatoes. And we’re firmly behind the quality of the movie too – there’s no doubting the quality of All the Money in the World.

We’re happy to say that after all that trouble, you did it, Ridley Scott. You saved All the Money in the World.

 

Credits: Golden Village Pictures