Theranos May Get Big Short Treatment

On Thursday it was announced that Jennifer Lawrence is ‘attached’ to a film project on the medical testing company Theranos.  Lawrence would play company CEO Elizabeth Holmes, whose company is under increasing scrutiny after federal regulators recommended significant sanctions for Holmes related to problems in its California testing facility.  A final ruling on the matter should come within a few months.  Class action lawsuits were filed after the initial report, and a relationship that placed several Theranos blood collection centers in Walgreen’s stores will likely end over the various complaints levied against the company.

As this is still a developing story, it’s worth noting that the announcement about the film is consistent with a project in the very early stages of development.  Depending on the schedules of the prospective actors and crew, the ability to obtain financing, the quality of a script (not likely written yet), and other matters, this film may or may not go forward.  And even if it does, it’s not at all guaranteed that Lawrence will still be attached to play Holmes (with who I think she shares some resemblance) or that Adam McKay will direct the film.

McKay was best known for directing comedy films such as Anchorman before earning an Oscar nomination for directing The Big Short, a 2015 fictionalized film based on the Michael Lewis book on the credit and housing speculation that led to the 2008 economic crisis.  McKay earned such praise for making an entertaining film that dealt with complicated subjects.  Though I think it too early to know if there will be a need for Lawrence to explain the vagaries of blood tests while in a hot tub (evoking a scene from The Big Short), I think McKay’s involvement bodes well for the project.  A Theranos movie involving possible fraud could be done as a simple corporate revenge project, but McKay could make it more interesting.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Lawrence has been involved with a film about a scientific or technical figure.  Not that the film Joy was marketed in such a way, but Lawrence played Joy Magnano in that film, which followed her as she developed a self-wringing mop and worked to use that as the foundation of a successful business.  Lawrence would be well suited to play Holmes.

Again, this film is in the very preliminary stages, and should it get funded and start production, it could be a while before it is released.  Should the legal troubles facing Theranos take a long time, the film may take even longer.


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