EXCLUSIVE: Fox Searchlight has acquired Meet The Man Who Sold His Fate To Investors At $1 A Share, a Wired magazine article by Joshua Davis that will be crafted into a starring and directing vehicle for Jason Bateman. He’ll play a man who found a novel commodity for a public offering: himself. It created a host of problems for the actual guy, Mike Merrill, when shareholders demanded control over life decisions like whether to have a vasectomy or even whether he should move in with his longtime girlfriend (and minority shareholder).
IPO Man, will be scripted by Micah Fitzerman-Blue & Noah Harpster, who are writers on Amazon’s new show Transparent and are developing a Mister Rogers movie for Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris to direct, with Big Beach financing. Bateman and Jim Garavente will produce IPO Man through their Aggregate banner with Davis, who has a deal at Fox. Bateman made his directorial debut on Bad Words and just helmed The Family Fang, starring with Nicole Kidman. He next will be seen reprising as part of the boss-killing trio in Horrible Bosses 2.
Merrill got into an IPO niche that usually allows investors to pony up money for a cut of someone’s future earnings, for instance. Merrill put himself on the block at $1 per share for 100,000 shares, and sold 928 of them. He started as a curiosity, with friends, family members and his girlfriend buying in. He made it interesting in that even though he still owned the majority of himself, he made that non-voting stock, meaning his investors could decide how he would conduct himself professionally, like when he got a thumbs up on his decision to invest $79.63 in a Rwandan chicken farmer. The controls veered into his personal life and he lost his girlfriend, who felt like the loser in a takeover battle. Same majority shareholders then exerted input in his future attempts at a romantic merger (he was even set up with a guy at one point). He was still allowing his investors to call the shot when the article ended.
There have been numerous comedies based on real stunts like this—the Will Ferrell comedy Everything Must Go was one that got made—but this one sounds like pretty fertile ground for a comedy. Bateman is repped by CAA and Tom Hoberman, while the scribes are repped by UTA, Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment and attorney James Feldman.