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Netflix and John Wells Productions Unfold THE PANAMA PAPERS: The Story Behind the Scandal That Rocked The World

26 July 2016

John Wells Productions To Bring Feature Film to Life in Story Behind the Scandal That Rocked The World of Politics and Finance

Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer, Lead Investigative Journalists and Architects of The Panama Papers, to Have Their Book Adapted Into a Feature Film

Gerard Ryle and Marina Walker, Key Members from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) Investigation On-Board as Collaborators

The story of thousands of secret bank accounts, a long list of the rich and powerful, and an insane accumulation of wealth hiding in plain sight just beyond the reach of governments gripped the world earlier this year when German investigative journalists Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer broke the story and led the team that uncovered The Panama Papers.

Now, Netflix and John Wells Productions (Burnt, August Osage County, Love and Mercy) are teaming up to tell the definitive story behind The Panama Papers and the two journalists who, working through an anonymous source known as John Doe, cracked open an unprecedented torrent of lies, diversions and information that revealed how the wealthy hid billions of dollars offshore through a little known law firm in Panama. The work, released in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), set off an international firestorm, triggering the resignation of heads of state, judicial investigations in over a dozen countries and a global debate on just how easy it has become for the wealthy to avoid taxes, game the system and evade the law.

Netflix has acquired exclusive rights to Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How the World’s Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money, a recently released book by Obermaier and Obermayer and will work with producers Wells and Claire Rudnick Polstein and executive producer Zach Studin of John Wells Productions to bring to life the dramatic story in a feature film. Marina Walker, ICIJ deputy director, and Gerard Ryle, who leads the ICIJ’s headquarters staff in Washington D.C., and oversaw the more than 400 journalists in 76 countries on the Panama Papers, are also on-board to collaborate on the film.

“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 The Panama Papers when they were first revealed on the world’s front pages,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer of Netflix.
Said Rudnick Polstein, John Wells Productions President of Features, “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.

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,” commented Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer.

“Panama Papers is one of the biggest economic and political stories in contemporary journalism, with an impact that resonated around the globe at a time of financial anxiety. We are thrilled to align ourselves with two leading names in contemporary filmmaking, John Wells Productions and Netflix, to tell the story of how it was put together against immense odds. Four hundred reporters, some working at great personal risk in dangerous places, were led by a scrappy team of investigative reporters in a small Washington media nonprofit. They made world powers -- including political leaders and regulators -- take notice and force change. That this story will be told in another compelling way is exciting and meaningful,” commented Marina Walker and Gerard Ryle from the ICIJ.

About Netflix
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About John Wells Productions
John Wells Productions is the production vehicle of writer, producer and director John Wells.  Most recently, Wells directed and produced the comedic drama Burnt starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, and Daniel Bruhl, and produced the Golden Globes®- nominated The Beach Boys biopic Love & Mercy, starring Paul Dano.  Previously, he helmed the acclaimed August: Osage County, based on Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name.  The film featured an all-star ensemble cast led by Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, and was nominated for two Academy Awards®.  Wells also wrote and directed The Company Men, starring Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper, which was his feature directorial debut.  Previous feature production credits include: Carroll Ballard's acclaimed drama Duma; Peter Kominsky's White Oleander; Neil Jordan's The Good Thief; Andrzej Bartkowiak's Doom; and Michael Mayer's A Home at the End of the World. Additionally, Wells executive produced Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven and I'm Not There, Mark Romanek's One Hour Photo, Todd Graff's Camp, Fenton Bailey's Party Monster, Robert Altman's The Company, John Waters' A Dirty Shame, Mary Harron's The Notorious Bettie Page, Phyllis Nagy's Mrs. Harris, Tom Kalin's Savage Grace, Douglas McGrath's Infamous and Jordan Scott's Cracks.

John Wells Productions has also produced numerous award-winning television shows, including some of primetime's biggest hit series such as ER, The West Wing and Third Watch, the critically acclaimed Southland for TNT, the Emmy® and Golden Globe® winning Mildred Pierce for HBO, and the Emmy®  and Golden-Globe® nominated China Beach.  Current shows include Showtime's Emmy®- nominated Shameless, which is in its sixth season, and the new drama series Animal Kingdom for TNT, starring Ellen Barkin.

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