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'Molly's Game' will replace 'All the Money In the World' as AFI Fest closer

Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba star in "Molly's Game." (TIFF)
Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba star in "Molly's Game." (TIFF)

The American Film Institute announced Sunday that "Molly's Game" will replace "All the Money in the World" as the festival's closer Thursday in the wake of mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against Kevin Spacey. 

"Aaron Sorkin is an American master, and we are proud to shine a proper spotlight on his directorial debut, 'Molly's Game,' on AFI Fest's closing night," AFI Fest director Jacqueline Lyanga said in a press release. "As Sorkin embarks on the next chapter of his career, his talents are timely for a tribute as he brings his gift of crafting compelling narratives and complex characters to the story of female impresario Molly Bloom."

The originally scheduled closing night premiere of "All the Money in the World" was canceled Monday following the controversy surrounding Spacey. Directed by Ridley Scott, the film was to feature Spacey as oil tycoon J. Paul Getty in the telling of the 1973 kidnapping of his grandson, John Paul Getty III. But Scott decided to cut out Spacey and replace him with Christopher Plummer. Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg also star.

"Molly's Game," distributed by STX Entertainment, was already scheduled to play at the festival but will now receive a higher-profile slot on the program as well as a tribute to Sorkin and a moderated discussion about his work. 

The film stars Jessica Chastain as Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested. Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera and Chris O'Dowd also star. 

A statement released Monday by Sony’s TriStar Pictures read, "'All the Money in the World' is a superb film and more than worthy of its place of honor in the AFI Fest. But given the current allegations surrounding one of its actors and out of respect for those impacted, it would be inappropriate to celebrate at a gala at this difficult time. Accordingly, the film will be withdrawn.

"However, a film is not the work of one person," it added. "There are over 800 other actors, writers, artists, craftspeople and crew who worked tirelessly and ethically on this film, some for years, including one of cinema’s master directors. It would be a gross injustice to punish all of them for the wrongdoings of one supporting actor in the film. Accordingly, the film will open wide as planned on December 22."

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