Warner Bros. and Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment are developing a film based on Ben Mezrich’s book “Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs — A True Story of Ambition, Wealth, Betrayal, and Murder, ” due to be published June 2, 2015.
“Once Upon a Time in Russia” is the untold true story of the billionaire oligarchs who “surfed the waves of privatization” to get filthy rich after the fall of the Soviet Union.
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They were “Godfather of the Kremlin” Boris Berezovsky, a former mathematician whose first entrepreneurial venture was running an automobile reselling business, and Roman Abramovich, his young protégé who built a multi-billion-dollar empire of oil and aluminum.
Locked in a complex, and very Russian partnership, Berezovsky and Abramovich battled their way through the “Wild East” of Russia with Berezovsky acting as the younger man’s protector.
Under Berezovsky’s protection, Abramovich built one of Russia’s largest oil companies, and in exchange made cash deliveries—including 491 million dollars in just one year.
Alas, their relationship started cracking after Berezovsky attacked President Vladimir Putin in the media—and had to flee Russia to the UK, where he received a grant of asylum in 2003..
Abramovich continued to amass riches. Dead bodies trailed Berezovsky’s footsteps, and threats followed him to London, where an associate of his died painfully and famously of Polonium poisoning. Then Berezovsky himself was later found dead, declared a suicide.
In 2012, he famously sued Abramovich for “sums in excess of $5.6 billion, ” which is what he said he was owed from their business ventures.
Berezovsky lost the case, there were rumors he was going bankrupt, then, in March 2013, he was found dead. His death was declared a suicide, which is also very Russian—there are hardly any homicides, it’s mostly suicide in Russian politics.
It’s the first Mezrich-based project by Warner Bros., which has a first-refusal deal with Ratner.
Mezrich’s books “The Accidental Billionaires” and “Bringing Down the House” were the basis for the Sony movies “The Social Network” and “21.”
Fox is working on Mezrich’s “Seven Wonders.”
Ratner pitched the movie idea to Mezrich, and Ratner will also produce “Once Upon a Time in Russia, ” alongside James Packer and John Cheng as executive producers. Chantal Nong and Julia Spiro will exec-produce for Warner Bros.