The story of the office-sharing company's fast rise and steep fall in its run-up to its IPO and ultimate bailout by SoftBank, has been given the green light by Blumhouse Pictures and Comcast's Universal Studios. Charles Randolph, who won an adapted screenplay Oscar for another Wall Street film, “The Big Short,” has been signed to write the script.
Continue Reading Below
Randolph will use Katrina Brooker’s upcoming book from publisher W. W. Norton as source material. The senior contributing writer for Fast Company has conducted several in-depth interviews with ousted WeWork CEO Adam Neumann as well as other sources at SoftBank and WeWork.
No word yet on who will star in this tale of a unicorn that lost its magic -- if it ever really existed beyond hype and hope. But here are some suggestions from the wannabe castings agents at FOX Business:
THE LEADING MAN
The former "Twilight" vampire and new "Batman" has the too-hip-for-school look that was Neumann's calling card. Pattinson can approach the role as the rare CEO who somehow thought the law of economics did not apply to him. Fueled by $12 billion of venture capital and debt, Neumann grew WeWork in less than a decade from a single coworking outpost in SoHo into a 12,500-employee company with 500,000 users in 111 cities across 29 countries. Investors bought the hype -- but only for a while. When the company lost $2 billion in 2018, Wall Street watchers and investors began to hit the brakes. And Pattinson knows something about billions lost. He's had some box office bombs -- "Water for Elephants" "The Lost City of Z" -- but he also knows about making billions. With the help of the "Twilight" series and "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," according to box office tracker The Numbers, movies he has been in have pulled in more than $3 billion in ticket sales.
THE LEADING LADY
Some of Jami Gertz's past movie titles would be great for the name of the WeWork movie if they were not already taken: "Too Low for Zero," "The Lost Boys," "The Renegades" or "Deallin' with Idiots." Besides acting chops, Gertz knows something about the world of private equity and high finance. She is married to Antony Ressler, co-founder of Apollo Global Management. As for Neumann's wife, she knows something about Hollywood since she is Gywneth Paltrow's first cousin and had a short-lived acting career as well. IMDB lists four roles in four unmemorable films. Her role of a lifetime may have been her partnership with her husband. WeWork S-1 filing not only listed her as one of the co-founders but also as Adam Neumann's "strategic thought partner."
Prior to WeWork, she worked as a trader at the investment bank Salomon Smith Barney, which makes the financial picture of WeWork even more curious. According to The Wall Street Journal, she and her husband spent $90 million on a collection of six homes that stretched from the Hamptons to a Bay Area mansion that featured a room shaped like a guitar.
THE WOULD-BE HERO
Michael Paul Chan is one of those Hollywood character actors who people see and say, "Oh, yeah, that guy!" The third-generation Chinese-American may be best known for his role as technology specialist Lt. Tao on the TNT drama "The Closer" and then its spinoff, "Major Crimes."
Masayoshi “Masa” Son, the 62-year-old CEO of Japan’s SoftBank Group, is known for a spinoff of his own, taking SoftBank from a telecom company to one of the world’s most active start-up investors. The tale of how Neumann got Son to invest in his company reads like an "elevator pitch" on steroids in a moving car. SoftBank wound up putting $8 million into WeWork and then Son watched it all slowly tumble. This fall, after the IPO fiasco, he cobbled together a $9.5 billion deal to take over the company and force Neumann out.
THE POWER BEHIND THE THRONE
Given the outcome of the WeWork IPO, Steve Carrell's best-known character -- the inept Michael Scott of paper company Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch -- could not have made things worse. An alumnus of "The Big Short," that experience could help in the making of the "WeWork" film. Carrell played Mark Baum, a fictional character inspired by the real-life Steve Eisman who notoriously rose to fame betting against collateralized debt obligations while at FrontPoint Partners LLC. Those bets against CDOs contributed to the housing bubble burst and helped fuel the Great Recession. Eisman was featured by his real name in Michael Lewis' book "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine."
Minson was no Michael Scott when he joined WeWork, having proven himself a seasoned financial executive as the chief financial officer of Time Warner Cable, and as AOL’s chief operating officer. Since 2018, he has also sat on the board of directors and serves as chair of the board audit committee for Rent the Runway, which encourages consumers to rent clothing for work and special occasions. Before taking over as co-CEO with Sebastian Gunningham, Minson's portfolio at WeWork included operations, community service, sales, expansion, business development as well as finance, legal, IT and human resources.
No, this is not Ari Gold 2.0, Piven's memorable role from the HBO series and movie, "Entourage." But his experience on PBS' "Masterpiece" as the title role in Mr. Selfridge, which centered on the real-life story of the flamboyant and visionary founder of Selfridge's, the famed London department store could come in handy in playing Kimmel.
Hired in 2017 as WeWork’s chief creative officer, he resigned in October. A noted fashion designer, to some it seemed like one of Neumann's vanity hires. But Kimmel was charged with designing the fast-evolving network of workspaces the company was launching. Kimmell told the web site Wallpaper, "It just started with a few conversations with Adam [Neumann] and it was like, 'This is so interesting and such a cool thing,'” said Kimmel. "I just gave it a shot and it clicked with me. You can’t control your fate. It finds you and you just roll with it.’'
THE OTHER GUY
The star of "The Break-Up" and "Wedding Crashers," knows a little bit about the digital unicorn mindset when he co-starred in "The Internship," a movie about interning at Google. He also knows about riding shotgun, having run with Owen Wilson in "Crashers" and "Internship" -- that would come in handy playing Miguel McKelvey.
While working at Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture he met Neumann at a party. In 2008, the two convinced their landlord to let them divide the floors of an empty building into semi-communal offices and rent them out. It wasn't called WeWork -- that was still two years away. This venture was called Green Desk, which was an eco-friendly coworking space, which utilized recycled furniture and alternative electricity. The duo eventually sold the business to the landlord but moved forward with WeWork.
THE NOT-SO-MYSTERY MAN
A bit of a "greatest hits" reprise here for Bill Pullman, who played JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon in HBO's tale of the 2008 financial crisis, "Too Big to Fail." Neumann has called Dimon his "personal banker." In many ways, he was, since JPMorgan was WeWork’s lead IPO banker as well as its main commercial lender.