The pitch for the newly announced satirical fiction film Rothchild, a comedy set in the world of the ultra-wealthy about a forgotten son trying to inherit the money of his influential family, already sounds like an elaborate piece of trolling. The real-life Rothschild family, a Jewish and European banking dynasty, has for centuries been the subject of anti-Semitic myths and conspiracy theories, fables revolving around their alleged control of world finances. The film that’s up for sale at this year’s Cannes Marché du Film, a movie marketplace where a majority of the industry’s business is done, has dropped the s from the family’s name, but the title is still loaded. Even more bizarrely: Mel Gibson is attached to star.
Despite Gibson’s widely reported past behavior, HanWay Films, a British distributor that mostly works on indie projects, announced on Monday that it had acquired the international rights to Rothchild. Shia LaBeouf—who is Jewish—has been cast as the main character, Becket Rothchild, who conspires to kill the nine entitled scions who are in the way of him inheriting the family fortune. Gibson will play Whitelaw Rothchild
“The divide between the superrich and the rest of the world is an ever-growing one, and it’s both fun and fascinating to delve into its inner bowels along with our hero trying to scramble to the top and claim his piece,” HanWay’s managing director, Gabrielle Stewart, said to The Hollywood Reporter about the movie. The thrust of the story—a villain kills off his rich relatives to try to secure their wealth—is reminiscent of classic black comedies such as Kind Hearts and Coronets, but that makes the choice of title for Rothchild even more befuddling. If the film is really intended as a broad satire of the 1 percent, then why pick such a specific, charged name?