2ND UPDATE, MONDAY, 10:31 AM: Details have been finalized for Open Road Films and Endgame Entertainment to partner on the U.S. release of Oliver Stone’s Edward Snowden project starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the deal I told you about first on Thursday. Check out the release after the original break.
UPDATE, FRIDAY, 9:03 AM: I’m hearing that producer-financier Endgame Entertainment is also part of this deal. James D Stern’s outfit (Looper, An Education) has come aboard as an executive producer and is partnering with Open Road on the acquisition as well as on the P&A.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, THURSDAY, 1:36 PM: Open Road Films has acquired U.S. distribution rights to the untitled Oliver Stone-directed film that will star Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden, the American who fled to Russia seeking asylum after making public more classified documents than anyone since Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. I’m told that Stone and producing partner Moritz Borman will make this deal as soon as today, partly because of the job that Open Road head Tom Ortenberg did in championing the release of the Stone-directed George W. Bush film W while he was at Lionsgate.
The deal follows one earlier today in which French sales agent-distributor-producer Wild Bunch acquired international rights to sell on a film that Stone begins shooting late January in Munich. Snowden has been a hot-button topic in town — the documentary Citizenfour premiered at the New York Film Festival. Right around then, studio heads began reading a script by Stone that I’ve heard is one of his stronger efforts, about a leaker some call gutsy while others call a traitor. Borman produces with Eric Kopeloff.
Deadline revealed in September that Gordon-Levitt would play Snowden. He most recently completed playing Philippe Petit in the Robert Zemeckis-directed The Long Walk for TriStar and he is now shooting Xmas with Seth Rogen at Sony.
Stone and Borman got into the Snowden film by making a deal with his Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, for film rights to his novel Time Of The Octopus. That is the basis for the story of an American whistleblower who heads to Russia and the back and forth between the leaker and his lawyer as he waits while that country considers his request for asylum. Stone and Borman also bought the screen rights to The Snowden Files: The Inside Story Of The World’s Most Wanted Man, a book by Guardian journalist Luke Harding that’s published by Guardian Faber. It is unknown at this point whether Snowden himself has any direct input.
CAA brokered the deal.
Los Angeles, CA – November 10, 2014 – Open Road Films and Endgame Entertainment are partnering for the U.S. release of The Untitled Oliver Stone/Edward Snowden Project starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Oliver Stone. The script is based on the books The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena. The announcement was made today by Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films and James D. Stern, CEO of Endgame Entertainment.
The Untitled Oliver Stone/Edward Snowden Project is being produced by Moritz Borman and Eric Kopeloff and is scheduled to start production in Munich in January 2015. Pathe, which developed the project with Borman, has retained distribution rights in France and Benelux. Wild Bunch is handling international sales in all other territories.
“After working with Oliver on ‘W’ I am thrilled to be back in business with him, along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the filmmmaking team and Endgame Entertainment, on this exciting project,” stated Ortenberg.
Stern stated: “I’ve long been an admirer of Oliver Stone and this continues our determination to work with great directors. I’m also delighted to renew our collaboration with Open Road and look forward to participating in this important film.”
Borman added: “Oliver and I were overwhelmed by the reaction to the screenplay from all quarters but, in the end, the enthusiasm from Tom & Jim and the distribution case they made, convinced us that the film would be in the perfect hands. This film needs an independent in the true sense, where political pressures will not come into play.”
The deal was negotiated on behalf of Open Road Films by Ortenberg, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, Elliott Kleinberg, and Executive Vice President of Production & Acquisitions, Peter Lawson — and by Moritz Borman and Creative Artists Agency.