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How Fake Money Is Made For Movies And TV

Money must look real … but not too real.

How fake money is made
How fake money is made

Even though movies are fictitious, everything within a film is carefully crafted so that we as an audience believe that it is real. Filmmakers and production studios go to great lengths to ensure that viewers suspend their disbelief and to make sure that the unreal looks as real as possible. But there is one exception to this rule and that is prop money. 

On screen, money must look real … but not too real. If you’re not actively looking, you probably can’t even tell the difference between prop money and real money. For the average eye, money that appears in films look no different than the bills that you have in your own wallet, but if you’ve ever taken a closer look, you will realize that the money presented on screen has a slightly different look. 

Because of the high risks of getting into trouble with the Secret Service, prop money is extremely complicated to produce. Nowadays, only a few companies produce and print prop money, and they generally offer two types of bills, “standard” and “high-grade.” Standard bills are printed on both sides and look believable when far away. Meanwhile, high-grade bills look identical to real money but are only printed on one side. 

Although money is seen everywhere in TV and movies, there are very specific regulations and rules that come with printing and distributing prop money. In 2000, while “Rush Hour 2” was being produced, cast and crew members tried to use and spend the fake money as if it was real. 

Because of this, the Secret Service confiscated the money from ISS props, one of the biggest prop houses in the world. 

Watch the video by Insider to learn more about how fake money is made and to hear the full story of the complications involving the prop money from “Rush Hour 2.”