An L.A. Weekly investigation should send Remington Chase and Stefan Martirosian into damage control mode
The producers of “Lone Survivor” Remington Chase and Stefan Martirosian are convicted cocaine dealers and have ties to Russian oil and an alleged contract murder, according to an investigation by the L.A. Weekly.
Hollywood financiers Remington Chase and Stefan Martirosian (at left, Chase, with actor Gerard Butler and Martirosian) carry separate convictions for cocaine trafficking from 1993 and that's hardly the most colorful – not to say sinister – part of their backgrounds, according to the article by L.A. Weekly's Gene Maddaus. This includes Chase's history as an FBI informant, and Martirosian's alleged involvement in a contract killing in Russia.
But they really want to make movies.
The two burst onto the Hollywood scene in September 2011. From the story:
They had set up a company, Envision Entertainment, along with a $250 million fund to produce films in partnership with two low-budget action producers, Randall Emmett and George Furla. In 2012, another announcement boosted the fund to $525 million.
The announcements were not exactly true. There was no “fund,” and the numbers were chosen for effect more than accuracy, according to Grant Cramer, an executive VP at Envision. But the pair was pumping serious money into production. Soon they were getting executive producer credits on big-budget films.
The producers admit to having lost more than $50 million on the dozen movies they have backed so far, including “2 Guns,” with Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, and “Escape Plan,” starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Among their projects now in development are movies based on two Hasbro board games: Monopoly and Hungry Hungry Hippos.
“We have invested over $50 million that we don't expect a return on,” Chase said in the interview. And Martirosian says they've learned from early mistakes: “If we're going to do a film, we have to control it, A to Z. We cannot be passive investors. That's out of the question.”
In Hollywood, there is no shortage of colorful money men writing the checks for big movies (“Fight Club” producer Arnon Milchan recently admitted to being an Israeli spy, for instance), but they don't get much more Day-Glo than this.
Martirosian's past with cocaine is detailed in court papers, according to the story:
In May 1993, he arranged financing and traveled to Costa Rica to check on suppliers. Unfortunately for him, the DEA had infiltrated the suppliers. Over the course of several meetings with an undercover agent, Martirosian agreed to help transport 800 kilos to St. Augustine, Fla. They agreed that Martirosian would send $200,000 from L.A. to Colombia, and that the cocaine would be shipped from Colombia to Costa Rica and on to Florida. Instead, in September 1993, he was arrested in a St. Augustine hotel room.
In all, nine people were indicted. In Costa Rica, the head of the federal police held a press conference and announced that the group had controlled much of the Costa Rican drug trade, according to an article in La Nación.
A spokeswoman for the producers declined to comment to TheWrap, but both men say that they were never involved in the drug trade despite the convictions. They claim they were wrongly ensnared by law enforcement officials who at one point caught Martirosian with a duffel bag filled with four kilos of cocaine and a Russian newspaper on a bus outside a Texas border patrol checkpoint.
“I've never seen any cocaine in my life,” he told the LA Weekly, blaming it instead on a group of Egyptian travelers.
They're also caught up in an investigation into the killing of Kasca Kalandarishvili, a Russian oil and gas businessman, who was shot in the back of the head in 2009 while walking his dog in Moscow. A convicted murderer named Istvan Kele tells the alt-weekly that he was offered $100,000 for the murder and that Martirosian gave him two guns to do the job.
Meanwhile, Chase acknowledged that he was an FBI informant in the case of the killing.
“[Kele] and his team were going to come there, murder whoever was in the condo and take the money,” Chase says. “When I learned of the events, I contacted the FBI. Let me ask you: What would you do?”
As for the business end of the story, even though Chase and Martirosian racked up credits on films such as “End of Watch” and “2 Guns” through a partnership with producers Randall Emmett and George Furla, their relationship was misrepresented. Cramer says that a $525 million fund Envision announced with Emmett/Furla never existed. Those figures were “chosen for effect more than accuracy,” the story claims.
A spokeswoman for Emmett/Furla declined to comment.