Movie of the Year Pick

Rosmah Mansor and her children

The controversy of Prime Minister’s wife Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor’s recent trip to Qatar for the International Forum for Women Enterpreneurism IV using the Malaysian Government ACJ319 VIP jet 9M-NAA is still fresh on people’s mind. This is on top of the growing more commonly ‘market talk’ of her opulence lifestyle and extravagances.

Now, the attention is starting to train on her son Riza Shahril Abdul Aziz, Chairman and CEO of Red Granite Pictures based in Los Angeles. The former HSBC employee is now Tinsel Town’s media attraction, especially with the US nationwide screening of “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

Los Angeles Times story:

Red Granite picks up movies dropped by studios

Finance and distribution firm Red Granite Pictures raises money from a pool of investors in the Middle East and Asia, and finances movies on a one-off basis.

Red Granite picks up movies dropped by studiosJoey McFarland, left, and Riza Aziz founded Red Granite Pictures. The 12-employee company has eschewed a template for producing movies. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times / December 12, 2013)
By Daniel MillerDecember 24, 2013, 5:00 a.m.

Where movie studios see trouble, Red Granite Pictures sees opportunities.

The new finance and distribution company’s business plan is both contrary and simple: Make the films the studios don’t.

Among its first projects are Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which comes out Wednesday, and next year’s “Dumb and Dumber To,” the intentionally misspelled sequel to the 1994 comedy.

On the surface, those pictures don’t exactly seem like the sort that a major studio would cast aside.

PHOTOS: Billion-dollar movie club

But both were complicated projects, fraught with thorny issues. Red Granite’s founders, Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland, said they thrive in these sorts of scenarios.

“One of our sweet spots is movies that have died in the studios — movies that are just great product that everyone was hot on but for some reason or another just didn’t make it to the greenlight stage,” said McFarland, 41, a Louisville, Ky., native who is Red Granite’s vice chairman.

McFarland and Aziz, Red Granite’s chairman, started the West Hollywood company in 2009. That year, they began working on their first film, the comedy “Friends With Kids,” which came out in 2012 and grossed $12 million worldwide.

They were also executive producers on the recent drama “Out of the Furnace,” which was released in early December, and co-produced “Horns,” a Daniel Radcliffe-starring horror film that will be distributed by Weinstein Co.’s Radius label next year.

PHOTOS: Celebrities by The Times

Red Granite, which has 12 employees, has eschewed a template for producing pictures. In the case of “Out of the Furnace,” the company acquired the project’s international rights from Relativity Media and then used its own in-house foreign distribution arm, Red Granite International, to sell the movie overseas.

On “Wolf,” Red Granite struck a deal with Paramount Pictures to have the studio distribute and promote the movie domestically for a fee. Red Granite sold the international rights to the film, mitigating the company’s downside risk.

“Every movie is different,” said Aziz, 37, who is the son of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. “We are very flexible in the model we [can] pursue.”

Red Granite raises money from a pool of undisclosed investors in the Middle East and Asia, and finances its movies on a one-off basis. The company is able to greenlight a picture without a distribution deal in place. But because it doesn’t have a fund it can tap, Red Granite must convince its investors that an individual project is worth the risk, rather than having the comfort of money to underwrite an entire slate.

On the set: movies and TV

That’s a tough business to be in, because one flop could scare off investors.

Graham King, the veteran producer behind such critical and commercial hits as “The Departed” and “The Aviator,” knows the travails of this business well. He produced Scorsese’s expensive 2011 3-D family film “Hugo,” which won five Oscars but struggled at the box office.

“That’s when I started paying attention,” King said. “The studios know what they are talking about. They take the occasional risk and they know what attracts an audience.”

“Wolf” is no “Hugo” when it comes to cost, but with a price of roughly $100 million, it wasn’t cheap. Red Granite paid for it all — a big bet for a fledgling company.

According to those who have seen prerelease audience surveys, “Wolf” could have a five-day opening run of $25 million to $35 million. That could be enough to beat out the five other films opening wide Wednesday — “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” “47 Ronin,” “Grudge Match,” “Justin Bieber’s Believe” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”,0,4900928.story#ixzz2oiU4ebFo


The LA Times story is very interesting. Riza and partner Joey McFarland venturing into film projects which major studios rejected. And they plan to do this three-four times in a year. The “A pool of undisclosed investors from Middle East” and “Able to green-light a picture without a distribution deal in place” bits are both intriguing and mysterious.

It is like having rich individuals or corporations with deep pockets to invest into projects and not knowing how the products would be accepted in the market and eventually sold. Almost like Riza and McFarland are able to get bets placed in a gaming scheme.

In normal circumstances bankers, investment fund managers and capital and commercial papers shufflers don’t get involved, buy in or punt their investments in these sort of high risk projects. People with money are usually very prudent, unless one is really a known and trusted personality to them.

Apparently, Riza who is an LSE graduate worked in KPMG and HSBC for not too long. Probably not long enough to be exposed in so many aspects of banking, capital market and consultancy. More importantly, to create a vast network of ‘high net worth individuals’ and earn their trust.

Then two years ago, he and McFarland formed a Hollywood picture company. They are interested to pick up on films which the major studios don’t want.

Then there is the jaw dropping damning story by Sarawak Report. This include the Raw Deal story of Los Angeles resident Riza’s New York apartment purchase exactly a year ago, which was signed at the value of at USD33.5 million.

Hollywood producer pays $33.5M for Park Laurel pad

Riza Aziz is working on Scorsese’s “Wolf of Wall Street,” but purchased on the Upper West Side

December 04, 2012 04:00PM
By Katherine Clarke

Riza Aziz and the Park Laurel spread

Up and coming Hollywood producer Riza Aziz may spend most of his time in Los Angeles, but he’s clearly serious about having a New York City pad. The 35-year-old Red Granite Pictures co-founder, and the son of Malaysian Prime Minster Tun Abdul Razak, has paid $33.5 million for a seven-bedroom home at the Park Laurel at 15 West 63rd Street, according to public records filed with the city today.

Aziz, whose company is currently producing Martin Scorsese’s “Wolf of Wall Street,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, closed on the penthouse unit November 19, records show. The sellers were Peter Edward Chadney and Simone Cecile Von Graffenried Simperl, both residents of Switzerland. Neither of the parties could be reached for comment. An attorney for the sellers declined to comment.

It was not immediately clear if a broker had been involved in the deal, and the unit was not publicly listed. When Chadney and Simperl purchased the apartment in 2010, they worked with Janet Chang of Douglas Elliman. An assistant for Chang said she had not represented them in this deal.

The sellers purchased the apartment for almost $24 million in 2010, when it was listed by Raphael De Niro and Claudine De Niro of Elliman, according to The De Niro group was not immediately available for comment.

The 15-room duplex has 7,728 square feet of interior space as well as a 1,244-square-foot terrace. It includes an AMX smart home system with integrated security control, solar window shades, sound proofing, heated marble mosaic floors in the bath and shower and a private elevator entrance.

Aziz, who reportedly makes his money as an investment banker, has been pegged as a producer to watch. He is one of a new generation of film financiers making their mark in Hollywood, according to a recent story in Variety. He also recently produced “Friends with Kids,” the 2011 movie starring Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” fame.


Even if only 50% of this is true, it is something which would be horribly manipulated against Prime Minister Najib and the current policy and exercise of ‘subsidy rationalisation’ where the Federal Government is growing unpopular with the recent retail price hike of petrol and diesel, total withdrawal of subsidy on sugar, the announcement of introduction of GST (even roll out is in 2015) and electricity tariff next year by 15%.

The speculation of increment of toll rates of many Non PLUS highways also seems to caused anger in many corners of community.

It is a mind boggling expensive proposition of starting a film producing company in an industry of performing arts and creativity. Then, getting investors and financiers to buy and bank in ventures which have no tangible assets as collateral.

On top of that, the purchase of that ultra expensive New York dwelling.

Riza Aziz is definitely living the lifestyle of the ‘rich and famous’. That would draw too much attention by to variable of curious, skeptics and suspicious tough critics against Prime Minister Najib and his family, on how the thirty plus man made his money, to even begin with as a film producer and entrepreneur in a highly volatile industry where he has no real control nor expertise.

The escalation of this story and there on reactions and justifications that would follow suit and probably entangled this further spiraling into a viscous cycle is something of a film script on is own. Probably Rosmah is obtuse about how many Malaysians even in affluent circles still talk if not believe her alleged involvement and/or knowledge to the murder of Mongolian national Altantuyaa Sharibuu seven years ago, the RM130,000.00 a piece Birkin and RM24 million ring.

Published in: on December 28, 2013 at 00:30  Comments (14)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “People with money are usually very prudent”. Is it their money? If so, why or “What, me worry?”, as the Mad magazine character says.

    And if they blow it up, there’s CIMB Uncle Nazir who can help.

    But the foreign reports all step aside the word “Step” when writing “Najib’s son” etc, don’t they?

    But I agree, the timing is bad, with the many complaints on rising prices of goods in the country.

  2. the high life with a USD 33.5 million apartment? And back home the policy which is so called rationalised lending as directed by BNM to the point that individuals are subject to so much scrutiny and credit checks just to borrow say RM70k to buy a Proton car. Forget about trying to borrow RM200k to purchase an average std apartment. And this guy is that rich huh with immense wealth to be able to buy an almost RM 100 million equivalent apartment. Whopping and jaw dropping. And back home the clueless and play safe PM maintains his silence on the growing restlessness of the people over his useless economic policies. Useless as a banana currency note. So useless and clueless to the extent that he and his banana economic advisers think that high income economy is a static non variable that can be achieved independently of variables like inflation, stagflation, low economic growth, high remittance of money from Malaysia by foreign workers etc etc. UMNO members should wake up and ask themselves what kind of leader from UMNO is now governing the nation?

  3. Perfect timing!

    Where the hell did this lowly graded Ex-HSBC employee get the money to start a film co? And in one year

    • Sorry.

      In one year of business, can afford a NY pad that costs USD thirty-three million?

      First thing strikes the mind; Jho Loh, Mudhabalah, Qatar. What’s worse than that, 1MDB money is funneled through any of these channels for the ultra high risk film projects!

      Will this story stop here? Most likely not.

      Will PMO’s agents answer this? Most likely end of January.

      Too many Malaysians grousing over too many price hikes, too soon and too short of span. Angry people!

      Let’s hope the next wave of monsoon does not cause the same floods a month ago. That, coupled with issues plus this story; More angry people!

      God help us!

      • “Red Granite raises money from a pool of undisclosed investors in the Middle East and Asia, and finances its movies on a one-off basis. ”

        I am not surprised if that “pool of undisclosed investors in Asia” refers to EPF, 1MDB, Khazanah, PNB, CIMB, Maybank, MoF, etc.

        Rosmah is a LEGEND!

  4. Minyak naik harga. Ayam naik harga. Gula naik harga. Rokok naik harga. Ni letrik pun akan naik harga. Tol pun akan naik harga.

    Kos hidup bagi majoriti rakyat makin meningkat. Kualiti hidup makin menurun.

    Rosmah dgn bersenang lenang belanja duit kerajaan. Naik jet, pergi lawatan sana & sini. Siap bawak media lagi utk tonjolkan muka.

    Rakyat makin menyampah!

    Sekarang ni cerita anak dia beli condo harga RM110j. Lagi ramai rakyat makin meluat!

    Kalau Najib laki bini makin tak sador diri, nanti rakyat benci. Rasa marah mudah sangat jadi benci!

  5. Tun Mahathir himself has given his advice to government to cut the cost of government administration rather than hiking the price. The government needs to lead by example, they should cut the allowances for the minister, change their lifestyle as well as change the way they spend. There is no point to sweet talking the public saying the government won’t allow the price hike to burden the public, when in effect it actually does, It will only make Najib less reliable and public lost faith with the government.

    The government has just got to accept that the rakyat has now smartened up, they understand economics better than some of the minister. Making a statement such as the price has to be increased to sustain the economic when in actual fact the biggest chunk of Malaysia GDP contributed by public spending will only make the minister sounds foolish, as Malaysia economic will never be able to sustain if the public cannot spend.

    It even sounds much idiot if any minister said that public should be able to absorb this price hike as public income has increased. Its true that income has risen but on average particularly middle income receive annual increment of 3%. Inflation on the other hand of a few important basket of goods expected to increase to 3.5% percent or more next year. Even that itself derived from a few important goods, if all the necessity goods are included such as housing price etc, it could easier be far higher than that.

    I’m worried about the future of our country not because of this increase of price of goods, as I’m sure despite complaining, majority of Malaysian will continue to work harder, but because when public loose faith with the government, there is high chance BN will be overthrown in the next election. Not sure if the country is really ready for that, and if its not, the country may eventually succumb to darkness.

  6. Talent Corp must have missed an obvious target or the offer of 2 open APs is simply not attractive enough.

    The prodigal son should come home and provide mentorship to many struggling Malaysians on how to be wealthy.

    • If it’s how to be wealthy in an unhealthy way, I’ll have nothing of it.

      The prodigal son can be prodigious elsewhere. He can stay put, away from this country.

      RM100+ mill New York apartment in no time after leaving a bank job as an employee?

  7. This is getting way too much for the rakyat to bear.

    I think we deserve better than this weak, unprincipled and pompous family at the top of our administration.

    The story of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI keeps coming o my mind…

  8. This is just a Start..

    A Novice don’t just go to hollywood to challenge the hollywood masters with suspect dirty money from what hollywood sees as a banana republic and hope to get away with it.

    They will pry further hoping to uncover more dirt to bury this upstart.

  9. If those moneys (plural for different lots isn’t it, one lot for Hollywood “investment” another for the New York lavish apartment) were from dirty sources, are those what they call “money laundering”?

    Not so coz he is the stepson of Najib? Doing it overseas is not money-laundering?

    If the fler says he made the money from the KL Stock Exchange, can he produce documents as proof? The authorities may not ask him but we can. Doctrine of “probable cause to believe”, or something like that, they say.

  10. I wish that Najib will man-up and explain clearly and convincingly why Malaysians should not be pissed off with this story.

    No Elegance Silence sh*t or not worth replying cr*p.
    Just answer and move on from there.

  11. Najib removes his silent stopper from his mouth to announce public sector cuts which many people applaude without realising that many businesses linked to the public sector will be affected. That will be the beginning of the country’s economic slow down. Really bad news for all. He also removed his silent stopper to tell the people that Malaysians should smile and give greetings to tourists visiting Malaysia in 2014. Wonder how Malaysians can smile with huge costs burden hanging over their heads. Worse if some tourists who enter Malaysia will not exit home and become over stayers or illegal immigrants. So after this he will put on again his silent stopper back into his mouth pretending everything is fine. Can we think of any PM in the history of Malaysia who was worse than this guy?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: