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The producers who took a Papillon remake to Red Granite, the Wolf of Wall Street production banner now embroiled in an FBI investigation over allegations of money laundering, claim their passion-project picture isn’t in jeopardy.
“There’s no reason to think that [the situation] is going to impact the film directly in terms of the production and distribution,” producer Roger Corbi tells THR.
But the scandal heated up as Corbi and his partner Yan Fischer-Romanovsky supported Red Granite at Cannes as they pushed it to buyers from a luxury yacht moored by the Palais. On May 11, The Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI was looking into the purchase of luxury properties in New York and Los Angeles by Red Granite head Riza Aziz, with allegations that money was siphoned from Malaysian investment fund 1MDB and was part of billions unaccounted for. The fund was set up by Aziz’s stepfather, Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Having spoken to Red Granite’s lawyers, both Corbi and Fischer-Romanovsky say they have been assured that Papillon — set to star Charlie Hunnam with a shoot date eyed for August — would not be affected.
“We wouldn’t like to be in this situation,” admits Corbi, who adds that they approached Red Granite “after years of work” on Papillon. He describes the film as “our baby, our step up.”
Although the pair say they have been aware of the allegations of fraud since the claims first emerged more than two years ago, their relationship with the company began before The Wolf of Wall Street came out in 2013.
“You never know. You meet a guy, and he says, ‘I’m wealthy, I’m going to give you $100 million for a movie,’ ” says Fischer-Romanovsky. “Well, you check and he doesn’t have a criminal record, and what do you know?”
This story first appeared in the May 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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