Crazy Rich Asians producer Ivanhoe has acquired film rights to Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, And The World, an exposé of the Malaysian 1MDB money laundering scandal that engulfed Red Granite Pictures.
The project marks the first to be announced since Ivanhoe and Michelle Yeoh’s Mythical Films struck a first-look deal. Yeoh will serve as producer.
Wall Street Journal reporters Tom Wright and Bradley Hope wrote Billion Dollar Whale, which chronicles the secret nexus of elite wealth, banking, Hollywood, and politics.
The book centres on Jho Low, a Malaysian financier and alleged mastermind of a $5bn theft who befriended Leonardo DiCaprio and remains an international fugitive. The scandal is under investigation by authorities in Malaysia, Singapore, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
John Penotti, the president of Ivanhoe Pictures parent company SK Global, announced the deal and said: “Tom and Bradley have crafted a thoroughly compelling telling of this unbelievable story. While certainly a daring work of investigative journalism, the narrative thread and eclectic characters that they so diligently chronicle make the book read like a thrilling and engrossing novel. The result far surpasses the story we thought we already knew. We are very proud to be associated with this project and anticipate moving forward very quickly to production.”
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with SK Global to bring the incredible story of Jho Low, a modern-day Gatsby, to the screen,” said Wright.
CAA and Steve Troha at Folio Literary Management brokered the deal for Wright and Hope with SK Global head of business and legal affairs Brian Kornreich.