Chinese visual effects studio is suing producers for over $234 million – The Hollywood Reporter

A major Chinese visual effects studio has sued two producers accusing them of masterminding a brazen scam spanning nearly a decade that left the company and other investors in the hole for more than $234 million. dollars.

Base Media claims it was defrauded by a pair of producers, Remington Chase and Kevin Robl, who forged documents and posed as its chief executive to secure large loans which, unbeknownst to Base, assigned the rights ownership and equity of the film. The Beijing-based company claims the men used the loans to negotiate a stake in Base while pocketing millions of dollars that were borrowed in its name.

“They spent several years cultivating a business and personal relationship with Base and its CEO by misrepresenting to Base their character, contacts and intentions, so that they could convince their investors that Base was genuinely involved in their investments,” we read in the report. complaint filed Thursday in California federal court. “Once they gained Base’s trust, they hijacked the Base name, forging loan agreements and investment agreements and signatures from Base agents, including Base’s CEO, creating fake Base email accounts, creating fake Base entities, opening bank accounts in the name of these fake Base entities. , and direct the funds they were supposed to raise for Base to themselves.

Base is one of the leading visual effects studios in Asia. His credits include work on blockbuster films and television shows, including avengers, Iron Man and The Mandalorianand win Emmys for HBO The pacific and Boardwalk Empire.

The company is now facing massive loan repayment demands that have resulted in various lawsuits from investors who were also defrauded under the scheme. According to the complaint, it is notified that federal investigators and Chinese detectives have opened a criminal investigation with at least one Chinese national in custody.

Chase and Robl could not be reached for comment. Tom Lewis, who has represented Chase in other cases, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chase was a producer on The only survivor, broken city and 2 guns, among other films. The Securities and Exchange Commission in 2020 convicted him of running a scheme in which he stole millions of dollars from investors claiming the money would be used to fund movies. He was also convicted of trafficking cocaine, used multiple aliases, and served as a federal informant.

Production Capital and other affiliated entities allegedly owned by Chase and Robl named in the complaint could not be reached for comment.

According to the complaint, Base sought funding in 2013 to build up its special effects business and start producing live-action and animated feature films. United Talent Agency introduced Base Managing Director Chris Bemble to Chase to discuss potential funding. The head of Film Finances, one of the largest surety companies in the world, also vouched for Chase.

Base says Chase has earned its trust through reliable financing on numerous projects, including fire from heaven and Lord of the West. He then agreed to partner with him and Robl to build a studio in Malaysia. Through his company, Production Capital, Chase has agreed to fully fund the construction and operating costs in exchange for a half interest in the facility.

The producers stepped up their fundraising efforts to fund the studio, the lawsuit says. They allegedly used intimate knowledge of the company’s finances from their previous dealings to mislead potential investors and told Base that the funds were borrowed from lenders contracting directly with Production Capital and that the company, in turn , would provide the funds under separate arrangements.

Base alleges that Chase and Roble entered into numerous fraudulent agreements executed with false signatures that sought to sell Base’s assets and interests in various projects as well as list Base’s assets as collateral.

Using representations that Base has no obligation to underlying lenders for financing the company’s new studio in Malaysia as leverage, Chase was able to negotiate equity in the company, cash and part revenue streams from the film in exchange for forgiving a portion of The Base’s debt, the complaint states.

“Base had no idea that defendant Chase’s representations were lies and that other parties would soon surface to demand money from Base based on fabricated agreements,” writes attorney Aaron Dyer in the file.

The truth surfaced in 2021 when investors began demanding repayment of their loans that purported to cede Base’s equity in various productions and its share of revenue streams as collateral, according to the complaint. The company is responsible for at least $234 million in loans taken out by producers, which could be much higher since an unknown film production company hasn’t disclosed how much it lent to Base.

Base has been named as a defendant in at least one of many lawsuits against Robl and Chase by investors who claim they haven’t received their share of the profits from films in which they say they bought a stake. Other investors have sued the producers for embezzlement.

Briana R. Cross