Spy vs Spy

January 15, 2007 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment

Columbia and Michael Mann have announced that they too will make a film about the life and death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, only days after Johnny Depp announced similar plans. 

Warner Bros. and Johnny Depp announced they are to film a similar project based on the upcoming book by New York Times journalist Alan Cowell (IT CAME FROM THE BLOG! January 13th) 

According to Variety, Columbia have bought the rights to another unpublished book on Litvinenko, written by his wife Marina and Alex Goldfarb, who had a close relationship to the spy. 

The book, “Death of a Dissident” will explore the power struggle between the KGB, its successor, the FSB and the new wave of capitalism that came on the heels of the country’s glasnost. It will detail Litvinenko’s life, as he was caught in the power struggle between these two colossal forces.  

Not only have Columbia bought the rights to “Death of a Dissident,” they have also consequently obtained the life rights to the spy’s widow Marina, whose first-hand information will be contained within the book’s pages.  

Warners reportedly also bid on the rights to the widow’s book, presumably to protect their own film, but Colombia won out in the end with a very aggressive bidding strategy. 

The race is now on for Mann and Depp to get their respective spy projects off the ground first. Mann told Variety that he is confident and reminded them that he prevailed the last time he faced a rival project. He developed The Aviator as a producer and defeated the rival Christopher Nolan project with Jim Carrey attached.  

“Death of a Dissident” is due to be published in May, earlier than Warner Bros’ “Sasha’s Story: The Life and Death of a Russian Spy,” reportedly due for the end of the year. This could give Mann the edge over Depp’s project. Either way, with two talented guys like them spearheading these projects, the films will surely do justice to the late Litvinenko’s story.

Pictures: Top Left: Director Michael Mann, Bottom Right: The late Alexander Litvinenko


Entry filed under: News.

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