EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Lawrence is attaching herself to Adam McKay’s drama about medical company Theranos and its 32-year-old founder Elizabeth Holmes. Theranos is the blood-testing startup that once had Silicon Valley investors salivating over its commercial potential with a $9 billion valuation as recently as two years ago. Gary Sanchez Productions is producing with Sanchez producer Kevin Messick planning to approach buyers next week.
Founded in 2003 by Holmes, Theranos claimed to have revolutionized blood testing by being able to use only a pinprick of blood, rather than traditional methods of drawing blood by injection. The company however is now under investigation over claims of inaccurate test results and Holmes’ own worth — at one point valued at $4.5 billion by Forbes thanks to her 50% stake in the company — has plummeted to a fraction of that. What’s more, Theranos may even be banned from practicing for two years for failing to resolve significant problems at its main California lab, according to a report from federal health regulator The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
McKay, who did an outstanding job making the financial crisis understandable and enjoyable in The Big Short, feels like the perfect filmmaker for this rise-and-fall cautionary tale for a company that once could boast of Henry Kissinger on its board of directors. In Lawrence, he may have found the perfect leading lady to embody Holmes, at one point the latest poster child for medical innovation and potential profitability. Forbes has now revised the estimated net worth of the company to $800 million taking into account the $724 million of capital raised. Holmes and her Theranos execs have vigorously denied claims that the company’s tests are unreliable and have made statements that they are cooperating with the relevant authorities to resolve the issues.
As would be expected for Hollywood’s most in-demand leading lady, Lawrence has a bunch of projects in the pipeline. She is set to star as Fidel Castro’s young lover in Marita, a pitch Sony has acquired from American Hustle scribe Eric Warren Singer. The Oscar winner will play Marita Lorenz – the real-life femme fatale who romanced Castro, was involved in a plot to assassinate him, and even observed a conspiracy to kill JFK. Lawrence also has an untitled film directed by Darren Aronofsky in the works with Scott Franklin and Ari Handel of Protozoa producing. Paramount will release the film, about a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
Lawrence also has Morten Tyldum’s Passengers in post opposite Chris Pratt. That pic follows a spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet transporting thousands of people which has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 60 years early. Early footage of the film is said to have wowed those in the audience.
McKay is a producer on Will Ferrell-Amy Poehler starrer The House, about a dad who convinces his friends to start an illegal casino in his basement after he and his wife spend their daughter’s college fund.
Mckay is repped by WME and Mosaic. Lawrence is repped by CAA.