The streaming giant has acquired the rights to the book “The Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How the World’s Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money,” written by German journalists Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer.
It’s the second Panama Papers movie that’s been unveiled this month. Steven Soderbergh, Lawrence Grey’s Grey Matter Productions and Anonymous Content are producing an untitled project based on Jake Bernstein’s upcoming book “The Secrecy World.”
Obermaier and Obermayer, who write for German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, based their reporting on access from an anonymous whistleblower to 11.5 million documents from the offices of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. The papers provided details on how the wealthy and powerful used the firm to take finances offshore to avoid tax liabilities.
The documents were leaked by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a global group of reporters and publications, which began revealing their findings in April.
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Obermaier and Obermayer will work with producers Wells and Rudnick Polstein, and executive producer Zach Studin of John Wells Productions. Marina Walker and Gerard Ryle of the ICIJ — which oversaw more than 400 journalists in 76 countries on the release of the Panama Papers — are also collaborating on the film in an unspecified capacity.
“We are confident that between the expert investigative work of Obermaier and Obermayer, the only journalists in touch directly with John Doe, the ICIJ, and the master storytelling of John Wells Productions, we will be able to deliver a gripping tale that will deliver the same type of impact as the Panama Papers when they were first revealed on the world’s front pages,” Netflix COO Ted Sarandos said.
Rudnick Polstein, the president of features for John Wells Productions, said, “We could not be more excited to be working with Netflix on this project. They have an excellent track record of producing top notch filmmaking and together, we are very much looking forward to getting started on shedding light on one of the most compelling news stories in recent memory.”
Obermaier and Obermayer said, “It all started with a ‘ping,’ when John Doe contacted us. That relationship and the work that came out of it grew to become the biggest data leak in history, and by far the biggest collaboration of journalists. The world has ever seen; with over 400 journalists ultimately participating in this investigation. We are proud that our newspaper was the starting point for this story which grew to be something monumental.”
No director or actors are attached. Wells most recently helmed “Burnt,” starring Bradley Cooper, and “August: Osage County,” based on the Tracy Letts’ play. He also exec produced the Brian Wilson biopic “Love and Mercy.”