For most of their careers, Joel and Ethan Coen have pretty much had end-to-end control of their movies. The two of them have alone co-written the vast majority of their films, with a few exceptions like The Hudsucker Proxy. For many years, due to labyrinth Director’s Guild of America rules, Joel was credited as “director” and Ethan as “producer” on their movies; although the two have been credited as co-directors on every one of their film since 2007’s multi-Oscar winner No Country For Old Men. Even the Coens’ editor, “Roderick Jaynes,” is actually the directors, working under a pseudonym.
More recently, the Coens have branched into writing prestige films for other directors. There were two of the four credited screenwriters of Angelina Jolie’s 2014 drama Unbroken, and also wrote last year’s Steven Spielberg drama Bridge of Spies. Coen scripts were also used for less highly-regarded films such as 1985’s Crimewave and 1998’s The Naked Man. Now, we have word of another film that the Coens are writing – but not directing.
Joel and Ethan Coen will write Dark Web, an “Internet thriller” about Ross William Ulbricht, who created the online black market known as Silk Road. According to THR, the script will be based on a Wired magazine article by Joshuah Bearman. The Coens have not, as of this point, announced their next directorial project, following Hail, Caesar earlier this year.
Ulbricht, known as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” developed the online bazaar and was later sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Dark Web is not to be confused with Deep Web, a 2015 documentary (directed by former Bill & Ted star Alex Winter) that also told the story of Ross William Ulbricht and Silk Road.
THR’s article states that the real story “was once described as Coen brothers-esque for its similarities to Fargo,” although criminal masterminds in Coen films tend to not be as competent as Ulbricht and the Silk Road founder – who, although he was once accused of murder, never practiced the Coens’ favorite crime, kidnapping. There’s also the problem, as seen in the recent Oliver Stone film Snowden, that few human acts are more difficult to make cinematic than someone typing on a computer. Then again, if there are any active filmmakers capable of making an engaging and unconventional Internet thriller movie, it might well be the Coen Brothers.
There’s no release date yet for Dark Web