It was only a matter of time before Philip Green's fall from grace became the focus of a film. British director Michael Winterbottom has taken up the task with Greed, which tells the story of self-made British billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie, whose retail empire is in crisis. Sound familiar?
Winterbottom has faced censoring by Sony, who has co-funded and distributed the project with Film4, and while concessions have to been made to keep his funders happy, the director still exposes the grim wealth inequality of the fashion; the difference between those who make the clothes and the CEOs at the top of the chain wallowing in their luxury yachts.
What's the story about?
Greed follows an avaricious fashion mogul Sir Richard “Greedy” McCreadie whose previously successful high street business is in a desperate state, after a dire performance in front of a parliamentary select committee. To save his reputation, he plans a Roman-themed lavish 60th birthday on the Greek island of Mykonos, but finds his celebrity friends less compliant than he used to. He is trailed by a journalist-turned-biographer whom McCreadie has hired to document his life.
Who's in it?
Steve Coogan stars as McCreadie, while Isla Fisher plays his wife, in whose name all his tax-avoiding profits were originally registered in Monaco (Green has the same arrangement with his wife Tina, but they're not divorced). Sex Education actor assumes the role of McCreadie's resentful teenage son and David Mitchell is enlisted as the reluctant journalist writing the mogul's very much authorised life story. Pixie Lott and Shanina Shaik also appear in the movie.
What exactly was censored?
The original version of the film ended with a grim look at reality - a series of cards told audiences how much garment factories earn in-comparison to the rich businessman at the top of the chain, including H&M’s owner, Stefan Persson (worth around $18 billion) and Zara’s owner, Amancio Ortega (worth around $67 billion). Head of Sony Pictures International Laine Kline told Winterbottom to remove them out of concern "about the potential damage to Sony’s corporate relations with these brands".
"He was like: 'I don’t care it’s the most popular bit. We’re not going to have mention of individual brands in those cards or individual billionaires,'" Winterbottom told the Guardian.
So, how much of is based on Philip Green?
A lot, it would seem. Like McCreadie, Philip Green's fall from grace also started with he faced a parliamentary committee - his, of course, was over the BHS pension scandal, in which thousands were left short-changed. Three years later, Green's business, Arcadia, was saved from administration after a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) agreed to his proposed rent cuts - up to 50 per cent less - plus 23 store closures and 520 job losses. The British businessman also enjoys a lavish birthday party - his own 60th celebrations in Mexico cost a staggering £6.5 million. Whereas Green paid for performances from Robbie Williams and Stevie Wonder, the film-makers paid James Blunt and Stephen Fry.
“We owe a bit of debt to Philip Green,” Coogan told the Financial Times. “He’s unambiguous about what he is and what he does... He’s shone a light on the whole system.”
When will it be released and where?
Greed will be released in cinemas across the UK and Ireland on Friday, 21 February 2020.
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