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Oliver Stone Acquires Film Rights to Novel by Edward Snowden's Russian Lawyer

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood June 10, 2014 at 1:55PM

Edward Snowden's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, announced today that Oliver Stone and his producing partner, Moritz Borman, have purchased the film rights to his upcoming novel "Time of the Octopus," a thinly fictionalized version of Snowden's own experience.
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Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone

It looks like Oliver Stone plans on using several books as sources for his screenplay about American cybergeek-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden.  In addition to Anaoly Kucherena's novel, Stone and producing partner Moritz Borman last week nabbed the rights to "The Snowden Files, The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man," by Luke Harding, a journalist at the UK's Guardian newspaper.

Stone is currently at work on the screenplay, and Borman is fast-tracking the a European co-production to bring the film to theaters.  Interestingly, it sounds like The Guardian itself (and not just Harding) is connected to Stone's film, although it's not entirely clear in what capacity.  Last week, Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger told Variety: "The story of Edward Snowden is truly extraordinary, and the unprecedented revelations he brought to light have forever transformed our understanding of, and relationship with, government and technology. We’re delighted to be working with Oliver Stone and Moritz Borman on the film."

Stone's not the only one looking to be first out of the gate with a Snowden film: last month Sony Pictures acquired the film rights to "No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, And The U.S. Surveillance State," Glenn Greenwald's upcoming book about his collaboration with Snowden.  Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli--of the James Bond franchise--are set to produce.

EARLIER: Edward Snowden's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, announced today that Oliver Stone and his producing partner, Moritz Borman, have purchased the film rights to his upcoming novel "Time of the Octopus," a thinly fictionalized version of Snowden's own experience.

"Time of the Octopus" focuses on Joshua Cold, an American whistleblower who spends three weeks stranded in the Moscow airport waiting for a decision on his asylum request to the Russian government.  During that time, Cold speaks with his Russian lawyer about his past and the motivation to uncover a far-reaching American surveillance program.  (Where'd he come up with that idea?)

"Anatoly has written a ‘grand inquisitor’ style Russian novel weighing the soul of his fictional whistleblower, Joshua Cold, against the gravity of a ‘1984’ tyranny that has achieved global proportions," Stone said in a press release.  "His meditations on the meaning of totalitarian power in the 21st century make for a chilling, prescient horror story."

Kucherena's novel is set to be published later this year, and Stone hopes to begin production on his previously announced Snowden film before the new year. Jamie Bell and Ryan Gosling were neck-and-neck in our poll of who should play Snowden, until surge of votes for "Hunger Games" star Josh Hutcherson.

This article is related to: Oliver Stone, In The Works


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.