After #MeToo, Kevin Spacey movie Billionaire Boys Club earns US$126 on opening day

File photo showing US actor Kevin Spacey, whose Billionaires Boys Club film opened at a disastrous US$126 at the box office.
File photo showing US actor Kevin Spacey, whose Billionaires Boys Club film opened at a disastrous US$126 at the box office.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

CALIFORNIA (WASHINGTON POST) - Some time at the weekend, a moviegoer at the Deer Valley Cinema in Antioch, California, forked over US$9 (S$12.30) to sit in an otherwise empty theatre - unwittingly becoming a solitary, popcorn-chomping symbol of just how forcefully the #MeToo movement has rocked Hollywood, and one actor in particular.

That actor is Kevin Spacey, a two-time Oscar winner, whose last movie Baby Driver raked in $20.5 million on its opening day.

His latest movie, Billionaire Boys Club, brought in a career-low opening day total for the actor, according to the Hollywood Reporter: US$126.

In between those two releases, more than a dozen men have accused Spacey of groping, fondling, or sexually assaulting them or making unwanted advances, a list full of people with their own IMDB pages who say Spacey's bad behaviour goes back decades.

The accusations started in October when actor Anthony Rapp said Spacey made sexual advances towards him in 1985.

The two knew each other from Broadway work, and Rapp told BuzzFeed that, at one point, Spacey picked him up, plopped him onto a bed and climbed on top of him.

At the time, Spacey was 26. Rapp was 14. In a tweet that served as a controversial public acknowledgement that he is gay, Spacey offered Rapp "the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour".

The statement alluded to other "stories out there about me", a foreshadowing of the allegations to come. In the following weeks, men on two continents accused Spacey of similar assaults during parties at the actor's house, at bars and pubs, or on set.

Several of the accusers said they were underage when the alleged assaults occurred. Many said they didn't come forward earlier because they feared no one would believe their stories over the word of a wildly successful actor and producer, a power dynamic they say Spacey exploited.

"Kevin Spacey is a sexual predator," Harry Dreyfuss, an actor and writer in Los Angeles and the son of actor Richard Dreyfuss, told BuzzFeed News in recounting his own experience.

Spacey could not be reached for comment on Sunday (Aug 19).

Last month, Scotland Yard announced that Spacey faces three additional allegations of sexual assault, according to the Guardian, bringing the total number of criminal charges against Spacey in Britain to six.

 
 
 

A month after Rapp's accusation, Netflix said it was severing ties with Spacey, the star of the show House Of Cards.

The sixth and final season of House Of Cards debuts this fall. Spacey has been written out of it. Ridley Scott replaced Spacey with Christopher Plummer in All The Money In The World.

In the past two years, women and men across the world have shared stories about being groped, harassed or even assaulted - in Harvey Weinstein's office, at the Fox News studios, on the subway, while out with members of the British Parliament.

All the stories have similar stock characters: Men in positions of power, and victims who feel their institutions didn't do enough to protect them.

The effort to shed light on the issue has been dubbed #MeToo and has derailed several careers. Special antipathy has been directed at the companies and organisations that kept offenders employed and, in several cases, in positions of power.

The claims against Spacey put Vertical Entertainment, which made Billionaire Boys Club, in a dubious position. Spacey had a small role in the film, which was made 2½ years ago, well before Spacey's accusers came forward.

Should the movie be scuttled because of one actor's alleged bad actions?

In a statement to the Wrap, the film-makers said they were releasing the film despite the accusations against Spacey, although "this is neither an easy nor insensitive decision".

"We don't condone sexual harassment on any level and we fully support victims of it," the statement said.

The movie, which stars Ansel Elgort and Taron Egerton, was ultimately released in a handful of theatres across the United States, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

"In the end," Vertical's statement said, "we hope audiences make up their own minds..."