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The Low Down

How Fake Money Has Impacted The Movie Industry

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The Wolf of Wall Street

Have you ever been amazed at seeing a huge pile of money on the big screen? Well, not everything is what it seems behind the camera. Fake money has become the norm in Hollywood for years. We take a look at how this became a constant with every movie studio.

Throwing Down That Cash

The first ever appearance of money on film was Thomas Edison’s 1895 film Cock Fight. The 45-second video showcased people betting real money on some cockfighting. In 1903, cash was displayed again in Edison’s 12-minute short, The Great Train Robbery. The film took inspiration from the British film A Daring Daylight Burglary. Due to the rise of counterfeit money, the government banned real money from being used on camera.

Rules And Regulations

After a while, studios started creating their own fake money to speed up the filming process. This practice ran into several red flags at every turn. In 1992, the government set some rules with The Counterfeit Detection Act. One major rule stemming from this act states that bills can only be printed on one side.

Keeping It Legal

In recent years, studios simply stopped creating their own fake money. Instead, they enlist the services of companies such as RJR Props. Unlike some companies, RJR Props communicate to the Secret Service about their business. “I wanted clarity about laws and regulations. Most other companies that make prop money are actually producing illegal prop money, and that can get a show shut down and someone fined and jailed,” RJR Props founder Rich “RJ” Rappaport told CNN.

Bills, Bills, Bills

The cost of printing fake money for the big screen is decent for the average studio. RJR Props sell standard and high-grade stacks of cash for $45. While their standard stacks are two-sided, the high-grade versions only feature one side. For $65, studios can grab a worn out stack of $20 bills.

Take The Money And Run

One movie involved in a major counterfeit money incident was Rush Hour 2. Counterfeit money from the film was passed off as real money by several extras. Following numerous complaints, the Secret Service forced the film to temporarily stop production. Independent Studio Services was ordered to stop creating the fake loot.

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