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A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
In the wake of revelations of a criminal past, film financiers Remington Chase and Stepan Martirosyan have gone from indie darlings to radioactive.
The U.S.-born Chase and Armenian Martirosyan, who financed 2013’s Denzel Washington–Mark Wahlberg starrer 2 Guns and Wahlberg’s Lone Survivor, are scrambling following a Jan. 2 LA Weekly report detailing cocaine trafficking convictions, prison time and stints as federal informants (both have gone by other aliases in the past).
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The pair have hired high-profile crisis lawyer Howard Weitzman, who is no stranger to controversy with a clientele that includes O.J. Simpson, Justin Bieber, the Kardashians and the Michael Jackson estate.
Universal, which distributed both films, declined comment, but producers Randall Emmett and George Furla, who secured financing on 2 Guns and Lone Survivor, are distancing themselves from the duo and their Envision Entertainment. “We have not made a movie with Envision in over a year,” Emmett tells THR.
Still, Emmett/Furla Films, which teamed with the duo on 2012’s End of Watch, has several projects in development with Envision, including big-screen adaptations of the Hasbro board games Monopoly and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Emmett/Furla wouldn’t elaborate on the status of any future projects, but a source says Martirosyan and Chase put up only initial development money for Monopoly and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Envision is not involved with Emmett/Furla’s Bruce Willis starrer The Prince, which recently wrapped production, or their Martin Scorsese-helmed Silence.
Even more deeply enmeshed with Envision is Mark Damon‘s Foresight Unlimited, another player in the indie finance world.
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Damon, an executive producer on 2 Guns and Lone Survivor, has several upcoming projects with Envision including the Michael Douglas–Diane Keaton pairing And So It Goes, which already shot, and the John Moore-helmed action pic The Englishman. Envision’s website, which was removed in recent days, touted Foresight as its exclusive foreign-sales partner (the website was later restored). Damon declined comment.
Martirosyan and Chase’s troubles also could impact Envision’s involvement in a Spike Lee biopic of ’70s record producer Neil Bogart with Justin Timberlake (Damon already has sold most foreign territories on the film). The Envision pair also are on board to finance the Amanda Seyfried starrer The Girl Who Conned the Ivy League, with Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman directing.
Weitzman is downplaying the report: “Envision has not experienced any negative feedback as a result of the article. They intend to continue their involvement in the production of great films.”
The pair was hit with more bad news in the new year. The day after their criminal backgrounds surfaced, French alcohol giant Remy filed a lawsuit against Envision on Jan. 3 for breach of contract in a product placement deal involving 2 Guns (Washington was supposed to give a shout-out to Remy Martin XO or Remy Martin VSOP as his favorite drink).
The only bright spot for Envision: Lone Survivor notched a WGA nomination for best adapted screenplay, giving the Peter Berg-directed film, which had been ignored by other awards groups, a glimmer of hope for some Oscar love.
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