Hollywood seems utterly determined to turn the saga of Julian Assange and Wikileaks into popcorn entertainment and following a number of projects that are already in development, DreamWorks has jumped into the fray and picked up the rights to two books on the subject.
Deadline reports that the studio has acquired the screen rights for "Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website" and "WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy." The former was penned by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former high-ranking Wikileaks member who defected, uncomfortable with the organization's broad dumping of material without discretion. The latter book was written by journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding, who recount their dealings with Assange -- who once hid from the CIA in Leigh's house -- as they worked with him on the publication of a couple of the big document dumps that made waves last year.
The DreamWorks project is in early stages. They've optioned two books to have as much material as possible and they're also investigating doing additional research, pulling public records and court documents, so they won't have to get legal approval from Assange. It's a similar tactic to that employed by Aaron Sorkin and Sony for "The Social Network," with the writer using this approach in order to avoid having to secure rights from Mark Zuckerberg.
This project joins a number already in development including one from "The Hurt Locker" scribe Mark Boal based on the New York Times Magazine article “The Boy Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest: Dealing With Assange And The WikiLeaks Secrets”; a documentary by Alex Gibney; another film based on the upcoming biography “The Most Dangerous Man In The World”; as well as another project we overlooked, as Deadline previously reported that HBO is also moving on a movie based on The New Yorker article "No Secrets: Julian Assange’s Mission for Total Transparency."
Those three Snow White movies have got nothing on the competition brewing between the projects being lined up here. No writer has been assigned yet for the DreamWorks film but we'd guess they'll be moving on this fast and no one wants to play second fiddle; but with Assange's court cases still to play out, no one wants to be premature either. But is the public still fascinated with Julian Assange? We're not so sure -- he's certainly an intriguing, important figure but whether or not his story translates into box office success remains to be seen.