A feature film chronicling the misadventures of Elizabeth Holmes, the criminally charged founder of the once high-flying and now-defunct biotech startup Theranos, will make its official debut at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in 2019.
Titled “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” the film was directed by Alex Gibney and produced by Gibney, Jessie Deeter and Erin Edeiken. Gibney is an Oscar-winning director, known for his documentaries “Taxi to the Dark Side;” “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room;” and “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.”
Gibney teamed with HBO to investigate Holmes: “Drawing on extraordinary access to never-before-seen footage and testimony from key insiders, [Gibney] will tell a Silicon Valley tale that was too good to be true. With all the drama of a real-life heist film the … documentary will examine how this could have happened and who is responsible while exploring the psychology of deception,” HBO wrote of the project.
Holmes founded Theranos in 2003, dropping out of Stanford — as many tech luminaries have done — to disrupt healthcare. Her company garnered nearly $1 billion in venture capital funding from several high-profile investors and was at one point valued at north of $10 billion. She emerged as a celebrity in her own right and was touted as one of the youngest women to run a startup “unicorn.”
Then it all came crashing down.
Theranos’ claim to have invented blood tests that need just a single drop of blood was false. What followed were several lawsuits and a federal investigation that alleged Holmes and Theranos president Sunny Balwani participated in an “elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance.”
More details emerged when Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou, who had closely followed the company’s rise and fall, published his book, “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in Silicon Valley,” earlier this year. A feature film for his account is in the works, too, which means we may get two Theranos movies in 2019.
“Bad Blood” the movie is expected to star Jennifer Lawrence as Holmes. “Shape of Water” writer Vanessa Taylor has signed on to write, with Oscar-nominated director Adam McKay (“The Big Short”) directing.
A record 14,259 films were submitted for approval to premiere at Sundance this year; just 112 features were chosen. Sundance runs from January 24 to February 3, 2019.