It’s shaping up to be a big year for Benedict Cumberbatch. Already a fan favorite for his starring role in BBC’s Sherlock, Cumberbatch is set to appear in numerous big-name pictures in 2013 – including Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (as the voice of the titular dragon), and a possible major star-making turn in Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Recent news indicates that not only will Cumberbatch be a blockbuster fixture in 2013, he will also be joining the annual awards race in the long-rumored Wikileaks film directed by Bill Condon (Twilight: Breaking Dawn). Now officially titled The Fifth Estate, the movie has been announced to be arriving late this autumn – just in time for serious Oscar contention.

Screen Daily reports that the now-named The Fifth Estate will open in theaters on November 15th. The film boasts a screenplay adapted by Josh Singer (Fringe) from two books: Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg – and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy by Luke Harding.

The Fifth Estate will see Cumberbatch sporting pale blonde locks as the much celebrated/reviled muckraker, Julian Assange, as he uncovers and distributes state secrets from around the world. The screenplay apparently follows the formation and flowering of the WikiLeaks Website, and the various plots and skullduggeries Assange engaged in to make hundreds of government documents public knowledge. Though it’s unclear just how much of Assange’s life and works the film will cover, one can safely assume that it will tackle the various legal issues that deep-sixed his career as a social crusader.

In addition to Cumberbatch, The Fifth Estate‘s cast looks to include quite a bit of top-notch talent. David Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds) co-stars as Inside WikiLeaks author Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Also appearing in the film are David Thewlis (RED 2), Laura Linney (The Big C), Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones), and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey).

The Fifth Estate‘s release date places it solidly within Oscar season, leading to speculation that Dreamworks SKG is grooming the film for full-on prestige status. Cumberbatch is a serious up-and-comer, heading a talented (if not name-recognition-heavy) ensemble. Since Julian Assange is such a recognizable person and personality, it will be Cumberbatch’s movie to carry – which, shouldn’t be much of a problem, given his previous work in similarly outsized roles.

The real-life Julian Assange.

However, other factors cast doubt on whether The Fifth Estate can distinguish itself enough to nab any statues come 2014. It’s already drawing comparisons to The Social Network for its attempt to turn the tale of a website and its eccentric founder into dramatic entertainment. As a director, Bill Condon often makes movies that are stately but somewhat sedate – as such, can Condon bring the kind of intrigue and energy to WikiLeaks that David Fincher brought to Facebook?

Furthermore, primary screenwriter Josh Singer’s career has entirely been in long-form television, raising question as to whether he has the chops to compress the sprawling account of espionage and rogue journalism into a digestible couple of hours. Granted, the shows Singer has worked on give him a good background for scripting a political drama/thriller like The Fifth Estate; he’s written for The West Wing, Lie to Me, and Fringe.

Whatever its final form, The Fifth Estate could shape up to be one of 2013’s more intriguing films. With an undeniably talented cast and crew, solid source material, and a plot featuring one of recent history’s most controversial features, the story of WikiLeaks will be something that we at Screen Rant will keep many eyes on.

The Fifth Estate shall reveal all on November 15, 2013.

Source: Screen Daily/ONTD (via IndieWire)