1091 Pictures has acquired “Pharma Bro,” a look at the rise and fall of Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical tycoon whose price hiking of drugs made him a textbook example of avarice run amok. The film by Brent Hodge links Shkreli’s story to the 21st century prominence of bro culture. It contains interviews with Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah; online influencer, musical artist and friend of Shkreli, Billy the Fridge; journalist Christie Smythe who upended her life for Shkreli; and Shkreli’s attorney Ben Brafman, among others. The film was produced by Blumhouse Television and Hodgee Films. 1091 Pictures will release the film digitally starting on Oct. 5.
Shkreli, the 38-year-old entrepreneur became “the most hated man in America” for his role in price gouging the prescription drug Daraprim by 5,500%, a move that overnight deprived patients of the life-saving medication. While he was busy doing that, Shkreli purchased the Wu-Tang Clan’s single copy of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” for $2 million and was arrested for securities fraud, eventually resulting in the subsequent forfeiture of the album and recent reselling of it by the U.S. government to an anonymous buyer to pay off Shkreli’s debt. After going to prison, Shkreli continues to provoke the public with bombastic declarations about finding a cure for COVID-19.
“What does it take to become the ‘most hated man in America?’ When I saw the media headlines about Martin Shkreli, I became fascinated by this businessman provocateur who deliberately cultivated an image of a larger-than-life supervillain — who used the press and social media to push buttons, but by the same token, holds a mirror to what is wrong with capitalism, social media and our society’s fascination with the outré. I wanted to go deeper than the headlines and understand what factors gave rise to this modern day Pharma Bro,” said Hodge.
Hodge, whose previous films include “I Am Chris Farley,” “A Brony Tale” and “Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary,” went on a globe-trotting exploration of his subject matter. He traveled to Shkrel, Albania to learn about Shkreli’s heritage, traveled to hospitals to talk with Daraprim patients, watched countless hours of his live-stream, and investigated the sale of the Wu-Tang album.
“Brent is a uniquely talented filmmaker who consistently brings his characteristically charming wit to everything he does. He manages here to create a very likable film, while diving deep into the background and psyche of a notoriously unlikeable figure,” said Jeremy Gold, president of production Blumhouse Television.
The deal was negotiated by Endeavor Content on behalf of the filmmakers and Danny Grant for 1091 Pictures. Executive producers are Jason Blum, Jeremy Gold, Marci Wiseman, Mary Lisio, Brent Hodge, Conrad Whelan, Steve Russell, Ryan McKillen. Producers are Aly Kelly and Jasleen Kaur.
“We are very excited to bring this one to market,” said Grant, senior VP of film and partnerships for 1091 Pictures. “The only way to tell this story accurately is through the unprecedented access Brent was able to achieve. Audiences are finally going to fully understand how Shkreli came to be Pharma Bro.”
Here’s an exclusive clip from the film.