It's been nearly four years since former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko died from radiation poisoning in London, an act he accused then-Russian President Vladimir Putin of orchestrating. No one yet knows the real story, or even what it means about modern Russia and its government's ability to deal with its critics.

And yet, it's clearly not too mysterious to make a movie about. Variety reports that Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Love in the Time of Cholera director Mike Newell will direct a film about Litvenenko and his mysterious death, with Warner Bros. planning to distribute. The film is an "an advanced stage of development" but has no talent lined up to star; nearly three years ago rumors circulated that Johnny Depp might star as Litvinenko, but his name isn't mentioned in the Variety piece. There was also apparently a rival project with Michael Mann leading it, but Newell's film will likely get made first.

Right now Newell is known for making big-budget, kid-friendly entertainment like Prince of Persia and the fourth Harry Potter film, but his career has gone all kinds of directions-- he also made Four Weddings and a Funeral and Donnie Brasco, after all. Newell obviously has varied interests, and there's no reason he shouldn't be able to handle a complicated spy story. But given how small a market there is for adult-aimed, politically themed movies, it's an interesting step for a guy whose films (Cholera excepted) have tended lately toward the big ones with mass appeal.

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