Red Granite Missing From 'Papillon' Poster
The troubled company’s name is absent from the credits of the big-budget remake that was the only film left on its slate after becoming embroiled in a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal.
The recently concluded Cannes Film Festival marked the seven-year anniversary of Red Granite Pictures’ spectacular launch party, the near-legendary beach event where Kanye West sang "Gold Digger" with Jamie Foxx to an audience including the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Hamm and Adrien Brody, and Pharrell Williams boldly declared that the new production company — which had just announced The Wolf of Wall Street — was to change the film industry “forever.”
Much did indeed change since that starry launch, but perhaps not the way Red Granite’s founders had envisioned.
On the newly released poster for Papillon, Red Granite’s bold remake of the 1973 classic and currently the only film on the company’s upcoming slate, the words “Red Granite” don’t actually appear at all. In fact, the film — starring Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek and being released by Bleecker Street in August — is listed in the billing block at the bottom as being a “Joey McFarland Production.”
McFarland is the Red Granite co-founder, the Kentucky native who set up the company with Riza Aziz and, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, received funding of at least $60 million plundered from Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
Aziz, who happens to be the stepson of the recently ousted Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, is thought to have fled the U.S. in late 2015/early 2016 (he hasn’t been seen in public there since the Daddy’s Home premiere in December 2015), and has reportedly been keeping a very low profile in Malaysia (although last year he was spotted in the background of his step-father’s state visit to China). His name also doesn’t appear on the Papillon poster.
It’s no secret that Red Granite has been dragged through the mud a little over the last couple of years.
Since it became embroiled in the multi-billion dollar 1MBD scandal — arguably the biggest financial heist in history in which a sovereign wealth fund was allegedly used by Razak and his cohorts as a personal piggy bank to finance mansions, diamonds, private jets, handbags, yachts and, indeed, Hollywood films — it has repeatedly battled accusations regarding the source of its finances and its association with Jho Low, the flamboyant financier at the heart of the corruption scandal.
Following an audacious launch and the success of The Wolf of Wall Street, Daddy’s Home and Dumb and Dumber To, it has shed staff, sales departments and even seen these three films targeted by the feds as part of the DoJ’s record-breaking forfeiture claim.
Earlier this year, Red Granite agreed to pay $60 million to the U.S. government to settle claims it was funded by money siphoned from 1MBD, stating that it was “glad to finally put this matter behind us and look forward to refocusing all of our attention back on our film business.”
But the future of the company is now in serious doubt, with no new titles added to its slate since Papillon was announced in 2015. The absence of “Red Granite” on the poster for this film isn’t a particularly promising sign. (It's worth noting that at Toronto, where the film had its world premiere, Papillon was very much listed — and still is, according to the website — as a Red Granite production).
It also seems like the company itself is beginning to recognize its own mortality.
Its once lively website now boasts a solitary page featuring a list of its film credits, with the "About Us" section (which featured McFarland, Aziz and various others) having recently been removed.
As for McFarland, his Instagram profile now lists a company called McFarland Entertainment, the website of which states it is in the business of “content development + production for film and television.” The homepage map points to Louisville, Kentucky, the town where he was born and raised.
Reps assure The Hollywood Reporter that there is no change to McFarland’s status at Red Granite, which remains in business. But exactly what this company does anymore is unclear.
Of course, any movement regarding a production company in Hollywood pales in comparison to what’s currently going on in Malaysia.
With Razak having lost the election this month, the former prime minister and his wife Rosmah Mansour are now the focus of an intense investigation, have been banned from leaving the country and are expected to face arrest soon. Family members are also part of the probe, and Red Granite co-founder Aziz, given his inclusion as one of the central names in the first DoJ report, could possibly be included.
As for Low, the man once thanked alongside Aziz and McFarland by DiCaprio and given a special mention in the credits for The Wolf of Wall Street, is now believed to be on the run in Taiwan.