The story of how a group of journalists from around the world worked together to process and report on the Panama Papers is interesting enough for at least two movie projects so far, with Netflix the latest to announce it is working on developing a movie about history’s biggest data leak.
Netflix’s project will be based on a book by Süddeutsche Zeitung investigative journalists Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer titled, The Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How the World’s Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money, which Netflix has obtained the rights to. It was Obermayer who was the initial point of contact for the source who leaked the documents that detailed the shady banking styles of the rich and famous.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), brought in by Süddeutsche Zeitung to coordinate the leak effort, will also be involved in the Netflix project. ICIJ director Gerard Ryle and project lead Marina Walker Guevara are “collaborating on the film in an unspecified capacity,” reports Variety.
The story seems like a natural for a
Hollywood internet streaming thriller. The publisher’s description of Obermaier and Obermayer’s book already reads like a movie plot:
Late one evening, investigative journalist Bastian Obermayer receives an anonymous message offering him access to secret data. Through encrypted channels, he then receives documents showing a mysterious bank transfer for $500 million in gold. This is just the beginning.
Obermayer and fellow Süddeutsche Zeitung journalist Frederik Obermaier find themselves immersed in the secret world where complex networks of shell companies help to hide people who don’t want to be found. Faced with the largest data leak in history, they activate an international network of journalists to follow every possible line of enquiry. Operating for over a year in the strictest secrecy, they uncover a global elite living by a different set of rules: prime ministers, dictators, oligarchs, princelings, sports officials, big banks, arms smugglers, mafiosi, diamond miners, art dealers and celebrities. The real-life thriller behind the story of the century, The Panama Papers is an intense, unputdownable account that blows their secret world wide open.
The other Panama Papers movie will be directed by Steven Soderbergh and is based off of another book, this one the soon-to-be-released Secrecy World by Jake Bernstein.