Brow Beat

Steven Soderbergh Is Making a Movie About the Panama Papers

Steven Soderbergh at the Directors Guild of America Awards in 2014.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Steven Soderbergh is producing and may direct a film about the Panama Papers, the staggering leak of financial data that gave details about how the wealthiest people in the world hide their money in offshore trusts and shell companies. The film, a co-production of Grey Matter Productions and Anonymous Content, will be an adaptation of journalist Jake Bernstein’s upcoming book Secrecy World. The entire project has come together very quickly: Bernstein’s book was acquired in a bidding war by publisher Henry Holt in April, and film rights were shopped immediately, less than three weeks after the first news stories about the Panama Papers were published.


Bernstein, one of the members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that broke the story, won’t be writing the screenplay. Instead, frequent Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns will tackle the difficult work of turning tax-avoidance schemes into the stuff of cinema. It seems like a daunting task, but Burns and Soderbergh managed to turn a price fixing scandal at Archer Daniels Midland into something amazing, so anything’s possible. No casting details are available—the book won’t be published until the fall of 2017—but the producers can strike some names off their list right away: Jackie Chan, Emilio Estevez, and Emma Watson all appeared in the data leak. (And if Soderbergh doesn’t end up directing, Pedro Almodóvar’s out, too.) The biggest unanswered question is where the producers will stash their profits if the film’s a hit—it’s doubtful that beleaguered Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca will help them.