Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald is publishing a book about his relationship and work with NSA leaker Edward Snowden, so clearly somebody needs to make a movie out of that. But who? The New York Times’ Michael Cieply reports that several studios spent the last week “exploring” the idea of buying the rights to the project. 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and HBO were all said to be interested, though Fox has already taken itself out of the running because Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia makes it “impossible to tell how a film based on his story might end.” And, as Cieply explains, that’s just one of the problems whoever decides to make the film will face.
Though the rights to Greenwald’s book “may include his own life rights,” the story’s other main characters — collaborator Laura Poitras and Snowden himself — have not put their life rights up for sale, which “leaves potential buyers to rely on legal precepts of fair use in portraying them, or on their assurances that they will not seek to interfere with a movie.” And, as the team behind Zero Dark Thirty learned when they made a movie about recent secret history, the United States government will almost definitely attempt to censor certain information and depictions of the intelligence community. And finally, filmmakers will have to figure out whether audiences want to see Snowden portrayed as a hero, a villain, or — most likely — something in between.