Kevin Spacey's new movie hit theaters this weekend. So, why didn't you hear anything about it?
The two-time Oscar winner has essentially been excommunicated from Hollywood after more than a dozen men and teen boys came forward last fall with accusations of sexual harassment and assault, including "Star Trek: Discovery" actor Anthony Rapp, who says Spacey made sexual advances on him when he was just 14.
Since then, Spacey has been fired from his hit Netflix series "House of Cards," which will end with a sixth and final season starring Robin Wright this fall. He also was wiped entirely from "All the Money in the World" after director Ridley Scott made the bold decision to recast him with Christopher Plummer and reshoot scenes just seven weeks before the film's release in December. The move paid off for Plummer, who netted an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor for his portrayal of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty.
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Netflix similarly dropped "Gore," a Spacey-led Gore Vidal biopic that was set for release this year, which could make the new "Billionaire Boys Club" the actor's last big- or small-screen outing.
The movie, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, co-stars Ansel Elgort ("Baby Driver") and Taron Egerton (the "Kingsman" movies), and it has earned just 13 percent positive reviews from critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes. (Moviegoers were more forgiving: 42 percent gave it a thumbs-up.)
The film was unceremoniously dumped on video-on-demand and digital platforms such as iTunes and Amazon in July and opened Friday in a handful of theaters in 10 states, playing in or near cities such as Phoenix, New Orleans, Minneapolis and Chicago. The Hollywood Reporter says the film earned just $287 in the U.S. on Friday and Saturday, though distributor Vertical Entertainment hasn't released weekend numbers. According to Box Office Mojo, "Billionaire Boys Club" has earned $1.5 million internationally in the last month. "We don't condone sexual harassment on any level and we fully support victims of it," Vertical Entertainment said in an earlier statement provided to USA TODAY. "At the same time, this is neither an easy nor insensitive decision to release this film in theaters. ... 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."
So is "Billionaire" really as bad as its abysmal reviews and cagey release suggest? Short answer: no, but it may be something even worse – completely forgettable. The movie is based on the real-life Billionaire Boys Club, a group of wealthy young men in 1980s Los Angeles who ran a Ponzi scheme and wound up getting involved with shady investor/con man Ron Levin (Spacey).
As portrayed by Spacey, Ron is smooth-talking and flamboyant, splurging money he doesn't have on brightly colored tailored suits, a Rolls-Royce and his dog. He is a mentor of sorts to burgeoning scammers Joe Hunt (Elgort) and Dean Karny (Egerton) in their get-rich-quick scheme, delivering ham-handed platitudes like "Billionaire or bust" and "You're a hustler just like me."
There are occasional uncomfortable moments, given the allegations against Spacey. Levin, who was gay, surrounds himself with handsome young men and leeringly gazes at Joe throughout their first meeting at his mansion. Later, Levin calls Joe to his table at a restaurant, where he's dining with Andy Warhol (Cary Elwes). They joke about how a male acquaintance has a "love boat between his legs" that's as "big as a salami."
Still, Spacey makes for a convincing, charismatic bad guy, and the film suffers when he's not onscreen, as his co-stars spout empty cliches about money, women and how to get them both.
—Contributing: Kim Willis