With predictable speed, the story of the illegal online narcotics bazaar The Silk Road and its recent seizure by the FBI has been hoovered up by Hollywood. 20th Century Fox and Peter Chernin's Chernin Entertainment have preemptively snapped up the rights to a news article by Joshua Davis, and no less a talent than Dennis Lehane has been set to work on the screenplay.
The "dark web" Silk Road (named after the historic trade route) achieved rather more publicity than it would have liked when it was shut down earlier this month. The hidden site, only accessible to people using the anonymising browser Tor, was like an eBay for illegal substances: a place where you could buy heroin, cocaine and meth using the Bitcoin currency. It had almost a million registered clients and was run by the whimsically monikered Dread Pirate Roberts, who was fond of fublishing lengthy libertarian diatribes on the site.
29-year-old Ross Ulbricht is the guy accused of being behind the buccanneer pseudonym, though he currently denies it. He faces charges of money laundering, drug trafficking, facilitating computer hacking and soliciting murder. But it's hard to hate a Princess Bride fan.
Lehane is the author of Shutter Island, Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River and Live By Night, so is no stranger to a fraught crime yarn. Davis meanwhile, is a contributing editor at Wired. He and Joshua Bearman (author of the piece that Argo was based on) set up Epic Magazine, where the Silk Road feature will eventually be published, as a forum for long-form journalism.
Davis and Bearman will also act as producers, along with Chernin and Jenno Topping. The Silk Road saga, of course, is still ongoing, and Davis' article isn't written yet, but Deadline reports there was still a "stampede" for the story. Pending a conclusion, Davis and Lehane still have plenty to work with.