Show us the money: 'Wolf of Wall Street' probe may boost profits

Wed Jul 20, 2016 11:32pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Leonardo DiCaprio bought the movie rights for what would be "The Wolf of Wall Street" back in 2007. But it wasn't until a little-known Hollywood production company came along six years later that the story of high-rolling fraudsters got off the ground.

On Wednesday, the Malaysian co-founder of that company, Red Granite Pictures, was accused in U.S. civil lawsuits of using $100 million dollars that was diverted from Malaysian state development fund 1MDB in a money-laundering scheme, to finance the film.

Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring DiCaprio as real-life convicted stockbroker Jordan Belfort "The Wolf of Wall Street," went on to make $400 million at the worldwide box office, get five Oscar nominations, and win a Golden Globe for the popular actor.

The lawsuits aim to seize the proceeds from the 2013 film. Now back in the spotlight, the rollicking tale of drugs, sex and money laundering should make tens of millions of dollars more, industry analysts said.

"A film like 'Wolf of Wall Street' with DiCaprio and Scorsese is an evergreen property and it could easily make another $100 million in the near future," said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations.

The renewed attention on the film won't hurt either. "All the talk just helps remind people about the movie," Bock said.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for global media measurement company comScore, said it was the kind of movie that does well for years.

In a statement, Red Granite said that to its knowledge, none of the funding it received four years ago was illegitimate and that co-founder Riza Aziz and the company did nothing wrong.   Continued...

Producer of the film "The Wolf of Wall Street" Riza Aziz arrives at the 25th Annual Producers Guild of America Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files