Albert Hughes / Buena Vista Pictures
Dead Presidents stands as not only an homage to blaxploitation films of the ’70s, but an update of the genre and the beginning of a popular fascination with that school of filmmaking.
The main titles, directed by Kyle Cooper, provide a sense of the American dream— and history itself— in a state of flux and revision.
To create the eponymous burning money for the opening sequence, a variety of adjustments to the initial approach were required. It was quickly discovered that burning real money did not give the desired on-screen effect. Thus an experimentation phase began, in which money was reprinted and scaled up on a mix of paper sizes and card stock. The team shot burning money for two days.
In a metaphor for the protagonist’s downward spiral, fire ignites and destroys revered symbols found on U.S. currency, beginning with early dead presidents and proceeding to such hallowed ground as government buildings, the United States of America itself, and finally the name of God.