Money Monster is a 2016 American thriller film directed by Jodie Foster and written by Alan Di Fiore, Jim Kouf and Jamie Linden. The film stars George Clooney (who also co-produced) as Lee Gates, a TV personality who advises his audience on financial investment and speculation on the New York stock markets and who is forcefully interrogated by Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell), a grief-stricken bankrupt viewer who lost his money after a previous tip; the film also stars Julia Roberts, Giancarlo Esposito, Dominic West and Caitriona Balfe.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jodie Foster|
|Music by||Dominic Lewis|
|Edited by||Matt Chesse|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Box office||$93.3 million|
Principal photography began on February 27, 2015 in New York City. The film was released by Sony Pictures Entertainment through TriStar Pictures on May 13, 2016, received mixed reviews from critics and grossed over $93 million.
Flamboyant television financial expert Lee Gates is in the midst of the latest edition of his show, Money Monster. Less than 24 hours earlier, IBIS Clear Capital's stock inexplicably cratered, apparently due to a glitch in a trading algorithm, costing investors $800 million. Lee planned to have IBIS CEO Walt Camby appear for an interview about the crash, but Camby unexpectedly left for a business trip to Geneva.
Midway through the show, a deliveryman wanders onto the set, pulls a gun and takes Lee hostage, forcing him to put on a vest laden with explosives. The man reveals that his name is Kyle Budwell, who invested $60,000—his entire life savings—in IBIS after Lee endorsed the company on the show. Kyle was wiped out along with the other investors. Unless he gets some answers, he will blow up Lee before killing himself. Once police are notified, they discover that the receiver to the bomb's vest is located over Lee's kidney. The only way to destroy the receiver—and with it, Kyle's leverage—is to shoot Lee and hope he survives.
With the help of longtime director Patty Fenn, Lee tries to calm Kyle and find Camby for him, though Kyle is not satisfied when both Lee and IBIS chief communications officer Diane Lester offer to compensate him for his financial loss. He also is not satisfied by Diane's insistence that the algorithm is to blame. Diane is not satisfied by her own explanation, either, and defies colleagues to contact a programmer who created the algorithm, Won Joon. Reached in Seoul, Joon insists that an algorithm could not take such a large, lopsided position unless someone meddled with it.
Lee appeals to his TV viewers for help, seeking to recoup the lost investment, but is dejected by their response. New York City police find Kyle's pregnant girlfriend Molly and allow her to talk to Kyle through a video feed. When she learns that he lost everything, she viciously berates him before the police cut the feed. Lee, seemingly taking pity on Kyle, agrees to help his captor discover what went wrong.
Once Camby finally returns, Diane flips through his passport, discovering that he did not go to Geneva but to Johannesburg. With this clue, along with messages from Camby's phone, Patty and the Money Monster team contact a group of Icelandic hackers to seek the truth. After a police sniper takes a shot at Lee and misses, he and Kyle resolve to corner Camby at Federal Hall National Memorial, where Camby is headed according to Diane. They head out with one of the network's cameramen, Lenny, plus the police and a mob of fans and jeerers alike. Kyle accidentally shoots and wounds producer Ron Sprecher when Ron throws Lee a new earpiece. Kyle and Lee finally confront Camby with video evidence obtained by the hackers.
It turns out that Camby bribed a South African miners' union, planning to have IBIS make an $800 million investment in a platinum mine while the union was on strike. The strike lowered the mine's owners stock, allowing Camby to buy it at a low price. If Camby's plan had succeeded, IBIS would have generated a multibillion-dollar profit when work resumed at the mine and the stock of the mine's owner rose again. The gambit backfired when the union stayed on the picket line. Camby attempted to bribe the union leader, Moshe Mambo, in order to stop the strike, but Mambo refused and continued the strike, causing IBIS' stock to sink under the weight of its position in the flailing company.
Despite the evidence, Camby refuses to admit his swindle until Kyle takes the explosive vest off Lee and puts it on him. Camby admits to his wrongdoing to Kyle on live camera. Satisfied with the outcome, Kyle throws the detonator away, then much to Lee's dismay gets fatally shot by the police. In the aftermath, the SEC announces that IBIS will be put under investigation, while Camby is charged with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
- George Clooney as Lee Gates
- Julia Roberts as Patty Fenn
- Jack O'Connell as Kyle Budwell
- Dominic West as Walt Camby
- Caitriona Balfe as Diane Lester
- Giancarlo Esposito as Captain Marcus Powell
- Christopher Denham as Ron Sprecher
- Lenny Venito as Lenny (The Cameraman)
- Chris Bauer as Lieutenant Nelson
- Dennis Boutsikaris as Avery Goodloe CFO
- Emily Meade as Molly
- Makhaola Ndebele as Moshe Mambo
- Condola Rashād as Bree (the Assistant)
- Aaron Yoo as Won Joon
- Olivia Luccardi as Arlene
- John Ventimiglia as A Team Leader
- Grant Rosenmeyer as Dave
- Greta Lee as Amy
- Laura Meakin as Wall Street Woman
- Cenk Uygur as himself
The project Money Monster was first announced by Deadline on February 7, 2012, when Daniel Dubiecki launched his own film production company, The Allegiance Theater. It would be the company's first produced film. IM Global financed while Dubiecki produced, along with Stuart Ford.
Alan Di Fiore and Jim Kouf wrote the script of the film. On October 11, 2012, Jodie Foster was set to direct the film. Lara Alameddine also produced the film. The story was altered from its original script inspired by the stock market glitch and crash of Cynk Technologies.
On July 25, 2014, TriStar Pictures won the rights to finance and release the film, whose latest draft was written by Jamie Linden. Clooney and Grant Heslov also produced for their Smoke House Pictures.
On May 8, 2014, it was announced that George Clooney was director Foster's choice to star in the film as a TV personality, Lee Gates, but the deal was not yet confirmed. Clooney's involvement was confirmed in July 2014. Jack O'Connell and Julia Roberts were added to the cast November 14, 2014 to star along with Clooney in the film. Caitriona Balfe joined the cast of the film on January 29, 2015, to play the head of PR of the company whose stock bottomed. Dominic West signed-on on February 25, 2015 to play the CEO of the company. Christopher Denham also joined the cast on March 4, 2015, playing Ron, a producer on the show.
In October 2012, filming was scheduled to begin early 2013. In July 2014, it was announced that production would begin after Clooney completed the Coen brothers' Hail, Caesar!, and principal photography on the film began in New York City on February 27, 2015.
Clooney was spotted on March 1 arriving at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria, NYC to film scenes. On April 8, filming began on Wall Street in the Financial District, Manhattan, where it would last for 15 days. A scene was also shot in front of Federal Hall National Memorial. Some re-shooting for the film took place in mid-January 2016 in New York City on William Street and Broad Street.
In August 2015, Sony Pictures Entertainment set the film for an April 8, 2016 release. The film was later pushed back to May 13, 2016. The Money Monster Premiered in Cannes on May 12, 2016, where the cast attended the photocall and screening in the evening.
Money Monster grossed $41 million in the United States and Canada, and $52.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $93.3 million, against a net production budget of $27 million.
In North America, the film was projected to gross $10–12 million from 3,104 theaters in its opening weekend. The film grossed $600,000 from its early Thursday night previews and $5 million on its first day. It went on to gross $14.8 million in its opening weekend, beating expectations and finishing 3rd at the box office behind Captain America: Civil War ($72.6 million) and The Jungle Book ($17.1 million). It fell 53% to $7 million in its second weekend, finishing 6th.
Money Monster met with mixed reviews from critics.   As of April 2018, the film holds a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 255 reviews with the consensus stating: "Money Monster's strong cast and solidly written story ride a timely wave of socioeconomic anger that's powerful enough to overcome an occasionally muddled approach to its worthy themes." On Metacritic the film has a score of 55 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while comScore reported audiences gave an 81% overall positive score and a 56% definite recommend.
Clooney's performance was praised by critics. A.O. Scott of The New York Times said that the "quality of the acting both enhances the credibility of the narrative and exposes some of its weak points". Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com, in a mixed review, praised Clooney's "enormous charisma", but criticised the film for not "being quite as thrilling or thought-provoking as [its] premise sounds". Chris Hewitt of Empire however gave a more positive review.
Several reviewers praised the atmosphere of suspense. Sandra Hall of The Sydney Morning Herald praised the film, particularly Foster's directing and her ability to "keep things moving". Richard Brody of The New Yorker wrote that Foster "keeps the action vigorous and the suspense high", but said that the film was "swallowed up by the very hectoring and impersonal sensationalism that it derides".
Some reviewers criticised the script. Wendy Ide of The Guardian gave the film a negative review, writing that the film lacks the "authentic anger" of The Big Short and the "sniper-like accuracy" of Network, criticising Clooney's "complete lack of sincerity". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said that what the script lacks in "emotional subtext" can be found in the cast's "richly detailed" performances. In a mixed review, Robbie Collin of The Telegraph called the film a "raucous hostage thriller that eschews explanation for wish-fulfillment", concluding by saying that "in the heat of the moment, Money Monster's bluster and nerve keeps you hooked". Josh Lasser of IGN was critical of the film's mix of comedy and drama, calling the transitions "too fast, ripping the audience out of the unfolding drama".
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