Despite the fact that over a dozen people accused him of sexual misconduct last year, Kevin Spacey is about to return to theaters with a new movie. Distributor Vertical Entertainment has confirmed to The Wrap that the film Billionaire Boys Club, which stars Spacey, will open on August 17th.
So what’s going on here? Is Spacey actually making a comeback? Well, sort of. A key part of this story is the fact that Billionaire Boys Club was actually shot long before the Spacey allegations came to light. According to Ansel Elgort’s Instagram page, it wrapped principal photography in January 2016, 21 months before Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of attempting to sexually assault him when he was 14.
After Spacey’s career imploded, nobody was really sure what would happen with Billionaire Boys Club. Not only does the movie feature Spacey in a key role, but it’s also a film in which Spacey, who has been accused of preying on young men, stars alongside a bunch of much younger actors.
At the same time, plenty of talented people worked on Billionaire Boys Club. So should all of them suffer because of Spacey’s actions? Vertical Entertainment has come to the decision that it’s worth putting the movie out there in spite of the controversy.
While speaking to The Wrap, the studio defended its decision, saying:
“We hope these distressing allegations pertaining to one person’s behavior — that were not publicly known when the film was made almost 2.5 years ago — do not tarnish the release. We don’t condone sexual harassment on any level and we fully support victims of it. At the same time, this is neither an easy nor insensitive decision to release this film in theaters, but we believe in giving the cast, as well as hundreds of crew members who worked hard on the film, the chance to see their final product reach audiences. In the end, we hope audiences make up their own minds as to the reprehensible allegations of one person’s past, but not at the expense of the entire cast and crew present on this film.”
This is a very different decision than some other film studios have made. Spacey faced sexual assault allegations less than two months before his new movie All the Money in the World was to open in theaters. But director Ridley Scott decided to reshoot every one of Spacey’s scenes with a new actor, Christopher Plummer. Somehow, Scott was still able to complete the movie in time for its December release.
Spacey also had a Netflix movie about Gore Vidal called Gore in the works, with filming completed before the allegations. But Netflix still decided to cancel it entirely, losing millions of dollars in the process. Co-star Michael Stulhbarg later said he hoped that people might be able to see the movie one day; that doesn’t seem particularly likely, though.
Aside from Gore, Netflix also completely reworked the sixth season of House of Cards in light of the Spacey allegations. The streamer had started production on the show when Rapp’s story broke, and the showrunners subsequently decided to rework the entire season, writing out Spacey’s character and focusing on Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood.
So yes, Spacey is making a comeback in that for the first time since his downfall, a movie that he stars in will hit theaters this summer. However, this will almost certainly be the very last time you ever see Spacey on screen. There has been no sign that the rest of the industry is open to accepting him back in; although Hollywood may have once been willing to look past the fact that a talented person faced sexual assault charges, those times, thankfully, appear to be over.
What’s still unclear is whether audiences will be willing to support a new Spacey movie. Richard DuPont, who plays a drug dealer in Billionaire Boys Club, doesn’t seem to think they’ll care. He told The New York Post, “People have such short memories. And Spacey is almost unrecognizable in a beard and glasses.”
A trailer for Billionaire Boys Club has been released, and despite what DuPont says, Spacey is quite recognizable in it. You might expect the trailer to cut around Spacey as much as possible. But instead, he has a pretty good amount of screen time.
In case you have a short memory like DuPont suspects, here’s what happened last year: In October, Rapp accused Spacey of making a sexual advance towards him when he was 14 and Spacey was 26. Spacey subsequently said in a statement that he did not remember the incident. He also used this as an opportunity to come out as a gay man.
After Rapp, 15 more people made allegations against Spacey, including allegations of sexual assault. Spacey’s representative subsequently stated that the actor would be seeking evaluation and treatment, and that’s the last we ever heard from him.
Billionaire Boys Club also stars Ansel Elgort, Taron Egerton, Billie Lourd, Emma Roberts, Jeremy Irvine, Cary Elwes, and Suki Waterhouse.
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