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Julian Assange is a hot get for Hollywood studio executives hoping to bring his life story to the big screen.
That’s a given, considering Assange’s made-for-the-movies backstory: the WikiLeaks founder appears to relish his persona as the enigmatic hacker mastermind who launched the leak of confidential U.S. State department cables two years ago. At the moment, however, he is seeking asylum at the Ecuador embassy in London to dodge extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over alleged sexual assault.
According to the Wall Street Journal, several studios are angling to produce an Assange biopic: Universal Pictures; for one; as well as Time Warner’s HBO Films; DreamWorks Studios; and Annapurna Pictures, the buzzy company headed by Megan Ellison, the twentysomething entreprenuer daughter of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.
There are some delays as execs wait to see how a number of Assange-related events pan out: there’s his Swedish fate; the potential leakage of Syrian government emails; the pending case of Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army soldier who is suspected of providing classified information to WikiLeaks.
“It’s been tricky because there’s so much of the story that’s yet to be told,” Holly Bario, DreamWorks’s president of production, told the Journal.
Dreamworks, which optioned rights to a former WikiLeak member’s memoir called Inside Wikileaks: My Time With Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website, has stalled production as Assange’s real-life drama evolves.
Still, HBO Films has been developing a movie based on a New Yorker profile of Assange with Inside Job director Charles Ferguson attached; Universal’s documentary from Alex Gibney, who won an Oscar for directing Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, is nearly completed.
CAA, meanwhile, scrapped the film and TV rights to Assange’s yet-to-be-written autobiography because he did not finish a manuscript as part of a botched book deal with Random House.
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