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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Movies

'Wolf of Wall Street' Producer Riza Aziz to Face Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (Report). The Red Granite co-founder is expected to discuss his role in the multibillion-dollar 1MDB corruption scandal, which allegedly saw laundered money used to fund 'The Wolf of Wall Street.' Riza Aziz, the co-founder of Red Granite Pictures, which famously produced the 2014 hit The Wolf of Wall Street, is expected to be questioned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on Tuesday, according to numerous media reports in Malaysia. The 48-year-old stepson of embattled former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, himself a central figure in multibillion-dollar 1MDB corruption scandal and under investigation since losing power in May, Aziz is alleged to have received $238 million in laundered money from the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund in 2012, money which -- according to the U.S. Justice Department -- was used to fund luxury properties in Beverly Hills, New York and London, alongside helping set up Red Granite Pictures. Aziz, who hasn't been seen in public in the U.S. since the premiere of the Red Granite-produced Daddy's Home in December 2015, founded the production company with Joey McFarland in 2010, launching with a spectacular party in Cannes in 2011 as they announced The Wolf of Wall Street, which would star Leonardo DiCaprio (who also produced). Aziz is also a known associate of Jho Low, the colorful playboy considered the prime suspect in the 1MBD scandal and now a fugitive, believed to be avoiding extradition between Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand. Low was also given "special thanks" in the credits for The Wolf of Wall Street. Red Granite, which in March agreed to pay $60 million to U.S. authorities to settle allegations that it was financed with money siphoned from 1MDB, is still reportedly in business, but has just one film on its upcoming slate, the big-budget remake of Papillon, due for release by Bleecker Street in August. However, on the film's recently poster, the company wasn't present, with the film listed as a "Joey McFarland Production." Since he lost a shock election in May, Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor (Aziz's mother), have become the focus of an intense investigation in Malaysia, with both banned from leaving the country and expected to face arrest soon. Last month, police seized jewelry, handbags and watches worth up to $273 million from raids on properties linked to the pair. The value of Hermes handbags -- a known favorite of Mansor's -- alone was put at $12.7 million. (Hollywood Reporter)

Box Office: Revenue Hits Record $3.3 Billion in Second Quarter, Led by June Bloom. "Certainly, there are obvious challenges and more competition for the entertainment dollar than at any time in our history, but the relevance of the big-screen experience remains undeniable," says one box-office analyst. Talk about mixed messages. Even as consolidation grips the film business amid questions about the health of movie going, the domestic box office posted its biggest quarter in history during the April-June corridor, when revenue hit an estimated $3.33 billion. June led the boom with a historic $1.268 billion, an uptick of nearly 19 percent over the same month in 2017, and 2.5 percent ahead of the record set in 2013, when June revenue clocked in at $1.236 billion. "This boom proves once again that the box office is a cyclical and unpredictable beast. The rumors of the death of the theatrical movie going experience are not only greatly exaggerated, but also misguided in their myopic misunderstanding of the very nature of the business," Paul Dergarabedian of comScore tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Certainly, there are obvious challenges and more competition for the entertainment dollar than at any time in our history, but the relevance of the big-screen experience remains undeniable," Dergarabedian continued. The domestic box office also hit record levels in April, when ticket sales clocked in at $1 billion. And while May revenue didn't shatter any records, the month was still up notably over 2017. The 2018 June bloom is thanks to such blockbusters as Disney and Pixar's Incredibles 2 and Universal's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which have grossed an estimated $439.7 million and $264.8 million to date, respectively. May and April hits include Disney and Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War ($672.5 million) and A Quiet Place ($187.2 million). Although opening on April 27, Infinity War is unofficially considered the first tentpole of summer 2018, with a sizable portion of its revenue earned in May and even June. "There can be no doubt now that when Hollywood makes appealing movies, Americans flock to movie theaters in huge numbers. The record-setting quarter we just completed was the biggest in cinema history," AMC Theatres president and CEO Adam Aron said in a statement regarding the 2Q record. The previous biggest single quarter was the May-June corridor in 2015, when revenue hit $3 billion, led by Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World and Inside Out. Similar data isn't yet available for the summer box office overseas. As detailed previously by THR, revenue for summer 2018 is pacing more than 15 percent ahead of last summer, when ticket sales fell to their lowest level in more than a decade, according to comScore. And through July 1, revenue year to date is 9 percent ahead of the same time period in 2018. At its current pace, summer 2018 could come close to matching the May-August stretch in 2013, when domestic box-office revenue hit a record $4.8 billion. Movies from Disney -- which is in the process of trying to buy much of 21st Century Fox, including 20th Century Fox -- account for more than $1.2 billion of the domestic surge, amounting to a whopping 60 percent marketshare. Disney's dominance underlies what some consider a disturbing trend -- it's the big blockbusters holding up the box office, while midrange films suffer. Comedies are also under seige. (Hollywood Reporter)

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