No surprise here: The backers of the Dumb And Dumber sequel are hitting back against RICO claims made by the movie’s producers three weeks ago. In the latest salvo in the ongoing legal spat, Red Granite‘s Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland today urged a judge to toss Steve Stabler and Brad Krevoy’s April 9 claim that “Red Granite is funded with monies that include proceeds from unlawful activities.” In their demurrer motion (read it here), the defendants say they will file a motion for sanctions if the plaintiffs don’t withdraw their racketeering charges within 21 days. McFarland and Aziz assert in the filing that “the RICO claim fails for numerous reasons including: (a) Plaintiffs lack of standing to assert the claim; (b) there are literally no facts alleged to support the claim; and (c) there is no nexus whatsoever between any alleged “predicate act” of racketeering and any harm allegedly suffered by the Plaintiffs.” Krevoy and Stabler are suing for compensation they claim they’re owed on Dumb And Dumber To, which is being prepped without their involvement by Red Granite who stepped in to back the project after Warner Bros fell out.
EXCLUSIVE: Red Granite Pictures‘ president of production Joe Gatta has exited after three years at the company. He was responsible for Dumb And Dumber To (UNI), Horns (TWC), Friends With Kids (Roadside), Out Of The Furnace (REL), and some other high-profile development projects. He also worked in conjunction with international head Danny Dimbort on several third-party projects. With only one production last year — Dumb And Dumber To — and no productions scheduled for this year, Gatta’s departure is not that surprising as there hasn’t been any production for him to oversee — a big change from his days at Millennium where together with Dimbort they handled eight to 12 titles a year. And, come to think of it, that was even down from when Avi Lerner was pumping out 15 to 20 titles a year … which was only something like eight or nine years ago. Red Granite also fully financed/produced Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street which has grossed more than $376.3M worldwide. Neither Red Granite nor Gatta would comment.
‘Wolf Of Wall Street’ Producers Send Second Cease & Desist To Former UK PM’s Sister-In-Law Over Blog Posts Alleging Corruption
EXCLUSIVE: The legal war of words over where the money to make The Wolf Of Wall Street came from has just heated up again. Late last week, lawyers for financiers Red Granite and principals Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland sent another dense cease and desist letter to UK-based blogger Clare Rewcastle Brown and her Sarawak Report over her alleged “recent unlawful and outrageous activities in violation of our clients’ rights, including your persistent fabrication and dissemination of false information about our clients and their business.” As of yet, no official legal action has been taken against Brown over her numerous posts about Red Granite, where its money comes from, and who its investors really are. Still, in a 7-page letter (read it here) sent Friday, Red Granite attorney Sunny Brenner of Santa Monica firm Loeb & Loeb says: “Make no mistake: Our clients will not hesitate to take whatever steps they deem necessary or appropriate to safeguard their rights and protect their reputations, and your time to take the necessary corrective action is rapidly running out.”
Brown, sister-in-law of former UK PM Gordon Brown, told me today from the UK that she has no intention of pulling down her posts, which have been published over the past month. “I believe the substance of my articles are correct and much of what I have printed is drawn from already published material in the United States,” she said. “If there are any unintentional inaccuracies, I am always willing to address and correct and indeed apologize for them. However, the pages of blanket and contradictory criticisms from Mr. Aziz’s lawyers only have one objective, which is to threaten and intimidate me into withdrawing my articles in their entirety. This I have no intention of doing.”
Red Granite was first announced in 2011 with a Kanye West concert and a big Cannes party. The producers behind Friends With Kids and Out Of The Furnace provided all of the approximate $100 million budget for the Martin Scorsese-directed Wolf. After winning the Lead Actor in a Comedy/Musical at the Golden Globes, Leonardo DiCaprio singled out producers Aziz and McFarland with thanks “for not only being collaborators but for taking a risk on this movie.”
You’d think the producers of The Wolf Of Wall Street – the Martin Scorsese-directed film financed by Red Granite International and distributed by Paramount with a budget they claim is around $100M — could have anted up a bit more for Oscar-nominated actor Jonah Hill. On Tuesday, Hill — the sidekick to Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf Of Wall Street – said on The Howard Stern Show he was paid only $60,000 for his role before commissions and taxes, adding that DiCaprio was paid probably around $10M (DiCaprio starred and produced). “They gave me the lowest amount of money possible. That was their offer and I said, ‘I will sign the paper tonight. Fax ‘em the papers tonight. I want to sign them tonight before they change their mind. I wanna sign them before I go to sleep tonight so they legally can’t change their mind,” Hill said. He said he wanted to work for Scorsese. “I would sell my house and give him all my money to work for him,” added Hill. “This isn’t what you make money for. You do 22 Jump Street or you do other things, and you can pay your rent. I would’ve done anything in the world. I would do it again in a second … This sh*t isn’t about money. You should do things that you care about.” The movie, Hill, DiCaprio and Terence Winter were nominated …
Just a month after Universal locked its deal to distribute Dumb & Dumber To, the sequel to 1994′s Dumb & Dumber, financier-producer Red Granite Pictures is attempting to freeze out the franchise’s original producers. A lawsuit filed today in Los Angeles seeks the court’s declaration that Red Granite owes no contractual obligation to Dumb & Dumber producers Steve Stabler and Brad Krevoy and that the duo are not entitled to any producer fees or credits they claim they’re contractually owed on the sequel. (Read the complaint here.) The volley marks the second time in the span of a year that neophyte outfit Red Granite has scuffled with producers over prior agreements on projects it has taken over; just last year the company filed a similar suit attempting to cut producer Alexandra Milchan out of Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf Of Wall Street despite her contract with Warner Bros, from whom Red Granite assumed the pic. Milchan countersued, and the scuffle was settled with Milchan retaining exec producer credit on the film.
The news that Warner Bros exited Dumb And Dumber To is hardly surprising. The studio has hovered over this sequel package like a wet blanket since January, unable to decide what it wanted to do with the property that originated through its production label New Line. Warners execs have hemmed and hawed over whether to let someone else finance while they distributed, or let it go completely. That apathy finally led to Warner Bros bailing a few days ago. At Cannes, the project was being discussed a lot, and I’m told that Wolf Of Wall Street financier Red Granite is in first position to finance the film and sell foreign. That company launched in Cannes with a Kanye West concert and fireworks on the beach a couple of years ago with a solid sales team headed by Danny Dimbort. But everybody’s waiting for them to start committing to splashy projects beyond the Martin Scorsese-Leo DiCaprio stockbroker film. This might be the moment for Red Granite to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. There are about five distributors ready to take domestic. Keep an eye on Universal!
What is it about Berlin and Jennifer Aniston? This is the third project being sold here at the EFM that involves the actress (the other two are Convention and an untitled Elmore Leonard project that’s currently shooting.) Red Granite International is handling international sales on She’s Funny That Way which also stars Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Cybil Shepherd, Eugene Levy, Kathryn Hahn and Brie Larson. Peter Bogdanovich is directing from a screenplay he wrote with Louise Stratten. Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach are producing.
The film centers on a married Broadway director (Wilson) who falls for a prostitute-turned-actress and works to help her advance her career. Aniston will play a therapist whose mother is in rehab for alcoholism. Principal photography is set to start in June in New York City. Aniston is repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Universal Pictures International has picked up the distribution rights to The Wolf Of Wall Street in six European territories. UPI will handle the film in Germany, the UK, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Spain, it was announced today. Paramount Pictures is distributing the Martin Scorsese-directed movie domestically. Peter Kujawski, EVP of Worldwide Acquisitions, oversaw the UPI acquisition of The Wolf Of Wall Street for the company. Danny Dimbort and Christian Mercuri’s Red Granite International is handling international sales on the film. They also negotiated the deal with UPI on behalf of the producers. Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Scorsese are producing. DiCaprio also stars in the adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s financial industry memoir The Wolf Of Wall Street. Alexandra Milchan is an executive producer. UPI also announced today that it has picked up the select territories rights to the supernatural-fantasy Horns and the crime-thriller Motel from Red Granite.
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has closed a deal for domestic distribution on The Wolf Of Wall Street, the Martin Scorsese-directed saga of the rise and fall of a Wall Street hotshot that stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort. The drama is shooting in New York, and it was financed by Red Granite. The plan is to release in the fourth quarter of 2013, which gives Paramount an awards contender to add to the product the studio showed in New York yesterday.
The film also stars Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Rob Reiner, Kyle Chandler, Margot Robbie and The Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal. Boardwalk Empire creator Terry Winter wrote the script. This will be a hot title at AFM, but Warner Bros, which originally developed the project, gets to eyeball the bids that come in on each territory before the deals go down. Scorsese and DiCaprio last teamed at Paramount on the hit Shutter Island.
The past year has seen the emergence of producers from varied backgrounds who are working on high-profile projects with major talent. This year in Cannes, a constantly heard refrain is that there is an abundance of quality product. Below are some of the key producers responsible:
Megan Ellison: The daughter of Oracle founder Larry Ellison has deep pockets and good taste that have put her at the forefront of today’s hot producers via her Annapurna Pictures. She’s also respected for what one distributor says is her “strategy of working only with strong directors.” Of the official selection films in Cannes, she produced John Hillcoat’s Lawless. Last year at Cannes, she won a bidding war for the rights to make 2 more Terminator installments. On her upcoming roster are Kathryn Bigelow’s hunt for Bin Laden pic, being sold by the sales company she’s backing, Panorama Media. There’s also Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths (sold by Hanway), Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming The Master, which the Weinsteins have and Inherent Vice starring Robert Downey Jr as well as Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher with Steve Carell and Channing Tatum and also via Panorama. Deadline also recently reported a big deal is in the works for Ellison and Annapurna to fully fund American Bullshit, the drama that has David O Russell attached to direct, with Christian Bale also attached and Bradley Cooper in talks.
Red Granite: When Red Granite Pictures launched its international sales division in Cannes last year, they did so in style. You can tell a lot about a company from the way it throws a party and Red Granite’s last year is one people still talk about. Kanye West performed with Jamie Foxx joining him to duet on Gold Digger while Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt rocked out on the beach. In 2011, Red Granite’s first production, Westfeldt’s Friends With Kids, was released and the company has steadily been building its roster of impressive product including Wolf Of Wall Street with DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese and Out Of The Furnace starring Christian Bale, Zoe Saldana and Casey Affleck which Scott Cooper is directing. Red Granite is also selling those pictures. Exec Joe Gatta tells me the company’s vision is to “make quality movies first and foremost. It’s a tough business; we have a lot of competition and we want to stand out as a company that’s getting the movies made.” Gatta says Red Granite wants to “grow, but grow steadily.” That could “in the future” include distribution, but the company will definitely grow its sales division under Danny Dimbort, the former Millennium/Nu Image partner who Gatta calls “the best in the business.” The goal for Red Granite is to be doing 3-5 productions per year with some third party pick-ups in the mix.
Back in March, Deadline revealed that Martin Scorsese would next direct The Wolf Of Wall Street, with Leonardo DiCaprio playing the title character after the upstart Red Granite stepped up with the funding. Here’s the official release:
Los Angeles, CA – April 19, 2012 – Martin Scorsese will direct “The Wolf of Wall Street” starring Leonardo DiCraprio. The deal, which brings Scorsese and DiCaprio together for their fifth feature collaboration, was made official today.
Red Granite Pictures owns the rights to Jordan Belfort’s best-selling memoir The Wolf of Wall Street, on which the film is based. Red Granite principals Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland are producing along with Leonardo DiCaprio (Appian Way), Martin Scorsese and Emma Koskoff (Sikelia Productions) and Alexandra Milchan (EMJAG Productions). Irwin Winkler and Georgia Kacandes will executive produce.
Leonardo DiCaprio will star as Jordan Belfort – the ‘Wolf of Wall Street.’
Terence Winter (“The Sopranos,” “Boardwalk Empire”) adapted the screenplay, which chronicles Belfort’s dramatic rise and fall on Wall Street, along with his hard-partying lifestyle and tumultuous personal life, which included drug and alcohol addiction.
Alex Proyas hasn’t had much luck lately. The last two films he tried to make, Dracula Year Zero and Paradise Lost, both got scratched for budget reasons. He’s just aligned himself to The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, based on a Robert Heinlein novella from 1942. Here’s hoping he gets to the start line this time, with funding from upstart company Red Granite.
Los Angeles, CA – April 10, 2012 – It was announced today that Los Angeles based film production, finance and international sales company Red Granite Pictures will fully finance and co-produce Alex Proyas’ “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” with Mythology Entertainment, Phoenix Pictures and Mystery Clock Cinema.
Producers are Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland (Red Granite), Bradley Fischer (Mythology Entertainment), Mike Medavoy and Arnie Messier (Phoenix Pictures), Alex Proyas (Mystery Clock Cinema) and Vince Gerardis. Joe Gatta, Topher Dow and Vincent Sieber are executive producers.
Proyas (“Dark City,” “I, Robot,” “Knowing”) will direct “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag.” The film will shoot in Australia where Proyas is a resident and operates his production company, Mystery Clock Cinema. Producers are eyeing a fall 2012 start date.
In “Hoag,” the title character is struck one evening with the realization that he has no memory of what he does during the day. Distraught over his predicament, and particularly concerned that he might be engaged in some nefarious activities, he contacts a husband and wife detective agency and asks them to surreptitiously
Martin Scorsese And Leonardo DiCaprio Committing To ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ For August; Red Granite Fully Funding
EXCLUSIVE: Director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are committing to make The Wolf of Wall Street their fifth collaboration. The film is based on the Jordan Belfort memoir of his days as a hard partying, drug addicted stockbroker who was indicted in 1998 for security fraud and money laundering and served a 22-month federal prison stretch. Shooting will begin August in New York.
The film will be fully financed by Red Granite Pictures, which acquired The Wolf Of Wall Street at the last Cannes Film Festival after Danny Dimbort, Christian Mercuri and Joe Gatta formed the international sales company. Red Granite got involved early with the just released comedy Friends With Kids, but this really is an opportunity to be put on the map, much the way GK Films did with Gangs of New York and The Aviator. The film will be produced by Scorsese and his production head Emma Tillinger Koskoff as well as Irwin Winkler, DiCaprio and his Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran, and Alexandra Milchan, who long developed the project before becoming an executive at New Regency. Red Granite chairman/CEO Riza Aziz and vice chairman Joey McFarland will be involved in producing capacities as well. There is no timetable to set a domestic distributor, but Red Granite will certainly sell territories at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.