Oliver Stone’s (Savages) Edward Snowden film has been purchased by Open Road Films, after a competitive bidding war in which some of the top studios had tried to acquire the feature. The movie, partially adapted from two books – Moritz Borman’s Time of The Octopus and Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man – will star Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon) in the titular role.
Earlier in the day, Deadline reported that the project had been acquired by French distributor Wild Bunch for its international rights. Some hours later, Open Road had a deal in place for U.S. distribution that came to fruition partially based on the past working relationship of Open Road head Tom Ortenberg and Oliver Stone, when the two collaborated for Stone’s George W. Buch biopic W.
Studio heads who have read the script believe that it is one of Stone’s better screenplays in some time, as the oft-controversial director has had a hard time recapturing the success he attained earlier in his career with films like Platoon, Wall Street, JFK, and Born on the Fourth of July.
It’s also not clear is some of the bigger studios may have been hesitant in acquiring the film due to its touchy and divisive material. Snowden is a figure who is admired in some circles, and labeled as a traitor in others, and if Stone’s past politics are any indication (the filmmaker has always been highly critical of American foreign policy), the director belongs in the former group of thinking. Whether any of this turned off some of the major studios is uncertain, but one of Stone’s previous films – the aforementioned W. – had a similar fate landing with the smaller distributor Lionsgate due to the film’s controversial subject and the fact that George W. Bush was still president at the time.
The Snowden project is currently in pre-production, and principal photography is scheduled for January of next year in Munich. The film is believed to detail Snowden’s correspondence with his lawyer while he waits in Russia to see if his request for asylum will be approved.