EbonyLife Studios, a Nigerian production company, owned by media entrepreneur and filmmaker, Mo Abudu, has acquired the rights to produce an action thriller based on the life story of the Nigerian Instagram celebrity, Ramon Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi.
EbonyLife Studios will be partnering with Will Packer Productions to develop an untitled project based on a Bloomberg article, ‘The Fall of the Billionaire Gucci Master’ by Evan Ratliff.
The Bloomberg story detailed claims by authorities that Nigerian-born Abbas perfected a simple internet scam and laundered millions of dollars. An untitled action thriller project, set up at Universal Pictures, follows a contested auction for the property.
Both production houses won the rights after a highly contested derby by several producers. The movie is now set up at Universal Pictures.
Ms Abudu broke the news on Instagram on Thursday and also gave an insight into how the movie project came about.
She wrote, ‘‘When the Hushpuppi story made headlines last year, I pitched the story idea to @willpowerpacker and James Lopez. They bought the idea and as headlined in this press release, together we won the rights to the Bloomberg article by Evan Ratliff mentioned above.
‘‘The globetrotting action thriller project is said to be a hybrid of catch me if you can and usual suspects. It’s a dream come true to be working with Will Packer Productions and Universal Pictures on this project,’’.
Will Packer Productions and Universal Pictures have released a number of blockbusters that include ‘‘Girls Trip”, “Think Like a Man Too”, “Ride Along”, “Think Like a Man”, “Takers”, “Obsessed”, “Breaking In” and ‘Stomp the Yard’.
Universal Pictures, with over 100 years in the business of movie-making in Hollywood, has produced some of the biggest titles in the world.
EbonyLife Studios, on the other hand, is dedicated to creating world-class and authentic African stories, through a range of co-production deals with international studios. As a TV and feature film producer, EbonyLife has so far produced three highest-grossing movies of all time at the Nigerian box office. Their production credits include Óloture’, ‘Your Excellency’, ‘Chief Daddy’, ‘The Royal Hibiscus Hotel’ and ‘The Wedding Party 1 &2’.
Ms Abudu also said there are many lessons to be learned from good and bad stories. More importantly, she said if Nigerian filmmakers or production teams do not tell this story, someone else will.
‘‘To ensure that this story is told with authenticity, a Nigerian storyteller with our pedigree needs to be involved. Too often, these types of characters are one-dimensional and feed into the worst stereotypes. Hushpuppi’s story is based on a real person whose story is already partly known to the world but the film gives us a real chance to tell a cautionary tale about a character formed by his environment and life choices.”
“The films of Martin Scorsese are a great example of a filmmaker telling richly layered stories of criminal characters from his heritage that we’ve all grown to love, without ever creating the impression that all Italian-Americans are members of the mafia. Needless to say, all Nigerians are not 419 scam artists,” she said.
Hollywood Reporter also said discussions on the writers to adapt the Bloomberg article are now ongoing.
They also add that Will Packer and James Lopez will produce through their Will Packer Productions while Abudu will produce for EbonyLife Studios.
“Ten months ago Mo pitched us a rich and entertaining concept steeped in Nigerian culture that can only be told with the help of her unique perspective. Together we knew Evan’s work was the definitive telling and the perfect anchor of this saga,” Will Packer said in a statement.
Earlier in June 2020, Hushpuppi, 38, known for flaunting his opulent lifestyle on social media was arrested in Dubai by special agents including the Emirati police officers and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operatives.
The FBI stated, in an affidavit, that its investigations revealed that Mr Abbas financed this extravagant lifestyle with proceeds of crime.
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