Although filmmakers are allowed to use real currency in movies and TV shows, it's not always easy to get your hands on the stacks of hundred dollar bills that might be needed for casino or heist scenes. And you can't destroy real currency on screen, such as the Joker does when he burns a pile of cash in The Dark Knight. There are also very specific laws governing the use and appearance of prop money. In the United States, producing fake money is regulated by the Counterfeit Detection Act of 1992, which mandates that cinematic paper money must be printed on only one side, and must be either significantly larger or smaller than real currency. The same is true in the United Kingdom, where the Bank of England has similar guidelines. Furthermore, under British law, the fake banknotes must not distort the Queen's image.
Show me the money:
- One maker of movie prop money, RJR Props in Atlanta, says they charge $45 to $65 USD for a stack of prop $100 bills, depending on quality. If you want notes that look like they’ve been in circulation for a while, that’s $20 extra.
- For movie prop collectors, unrealistic banknotes can be especially valuable, such as the bills from Back to the Future Part II featuring the likeness of Biff Tannen.
- During the filming of the 2001 action comedy Rush Hour 2 in Las Vegas, an explosion scene sent thousands of realistic-looking prop bills flying through the air. When the fake money began showing up at casinos, federal agents were alerted.