Key To Successful Movies On Tech Moguls Elon Musk & Sam Bankman-Fried? Go Dark & Unauthorized

Word is circulating online that A24 wants Darren Aronofsky to turn the Walter Isaacson authorized biography on Elon Musk into a feature film. This comes as Apple is working toward the same goal with fallen cryptocurrency kingpin Samuel Bankman-Fried based on the subject-friendly Michael Lewis book Going Infinite.

These can be tricky assignments especially when the subjects are still living their third acts, but in the case of Musk in particular, Aronofsky and A24 will have to deal with the sobering prospect: do they make a Faustian bargain with Musk that gives access, but might also turn arguably the most polarizing figure in the world this side of Donald Trump into someone warm and fuzzy?

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On the Bankman-Friedman book, the intriguing thing is that this nerd who has been convicted of fraud and costing many a lot of money has a book written by Lewis that was knocked big time for being too kind to the subject.

These movies can be tricky when the subject is in the process of living their third act. Musk’s prowess is estimable with Tesla and SpaceX (Tom Cruise will raise that profile even higher by traveling to space with director Doug Liman to shoot the first feature in outer space), but his track record so far with Twitter (now X) leaves much to be desired as does so many other parts of this most complicated man.

The best move these films could make is to not make an accommodation with the subjects. While Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was in talks at one time to be involved in The Social Network, the filmmakers David Fincher, Scott Rubin and Aaron Sorkin smartly decided not to go that route because it would have conceivably compromised their creative vision.

I remember writing about a Phil Spector movie that Tom Cruise was going to make with Cameron Crowe, latter of whom told me, even though Tom had the Wall of Sound music producer’s manner down pat, there was no satisfying third act. Well, there sure was a third act when the gun-happy Spector was convicted of shooting a woman in his estate. But the movie was authorized — the filmmakers needed song rights, and at the time there didn’t seem a downside — and there was no way Spector and his reps were going to allow that story to be told.

These movies work best when they are tales told as darkly as possible, like the limited series on the opioid-making Sackler family. Zuckerberg’ s image was enhanced by Social Network because the movie, and Jesse Eisenberg’s performance, were so good. But giving up any creative freedom could leave any of the makers of these projects writing off an expensive book rights deal, because the resulting sanitized movie would be met with scorn.

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