To most people the name Dread Pirate Roberts conjures up memories of The Princess Bride and the feared mythical pirate Cary Elwes posed as. But to a certain underground segment that name is recognized as the pseudonym of Ross William Ulbricht, who invented the darknet marketplace known as the Silk Road. His story has been told before, most recently in the Alex Winter-directed, Keanu Reeves-narrated documentary, Deep Web (which Julian reviewed here), and now the Coen Brothers will attempt to tell it again in narrative form.
THR reports Joel and Ethan Coen will pen Dark Web, a title that refers to the furthest reaches of the internet where the Silk Road exists, allowing users to buy virtually anything on the black market. Need to hire a hit-man? Sure, pony up enough Bitcoin and you can probably get John Wick to do the dirty deed. Dennis Lehane wrote the first draft of the script, a thriller which will be based on the 2003 Wired article about Ulbritcht's rise to Internet prominence. Eventually he became a target of the FBI and was arrested, charged, and ultimately convicted on multiple counts including money laundering and computer hacking.
As of now the Coens are just taking a crack at the script and there's no guarantee they'll direct. But just having them on board in this capacity is a huge boost to a film that will be tough to sell. Movies about guys who sit around skulking through the Internet (Snowden, The Fifth Estate) haven't found an audience in years, but maybe the Coens can come up with an approach to change that.