EXCLUSIVE: Sports content studio game1 has optioned film rights to attorney Rachael Denhollander’s memoir
The film will follow Denhollander, recounting her life from the time she met former USA Gymnastics Team and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar, through the subsequent fight to bring justice for his serial abuse of young girls seeking medical care. Despite powerful institutions attempting to cover up his abuse, the one-time gymnast launched an investigation that would ultimately unmask one of the most prolific sexual abusers in recorded history, while building an army of survivors that would take him down. Following her leadership, more than 300 women participated in the criminal prosecution and sentencing of Nasser, leading to his life imprisonment.
Hollander’s courageous tenacity and ongoing advocacy helped trigger a complete upheaval at both USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, with former executives and high-ranking officials facing numerous criminal charges for their complicity in covering up Nassar’s abuse and lying about what they knew. She was also instrumental in helping to secure a record-setting $500 million settlement with the University for Nassar survivors in 2018, and a further $380 million settlement with USA Gymnastics in 2021. Her memoir was published by Tyndale Momentum in 2019.
Basil Iwanyk, Greg Economou and Mark Ciardi will produce the What Is It Worth film, with Denhollander exec producing alongside game1’s Beverly Nuako and Therese Andrews.
“The real story of the Nassar case isn’t what happened in the court room – it’s how we got there,” said Denhollander. “It’s the story of what survivors face every day, the cost of speaking up, and all the times the miracle almost didn’t happen. It’s the story of what happens when each person chooses what is right, over and over again, no matter the cost, and [how] those choices come together and change the world.”
“We are honored to partner with Rachael on such an important project. Her relentless pursuit of justice is an inspiration,” said Nuako, who serves as game1’s Vice President of Development. “We are also privileged to have Janine Eser’s thoughtful approach and vision to adapt this extraordinary book. It can’t be overstated how critically important it is to represent the hardships that many brave women endured as an effort to challenge a pervasive culture of silence.”
“Rachael’s strength and perseverance are unparalleled,” added Andrews, who serves as game1’s EVP, Production. “In the end, her story is incredibly uplifting, filled with hope, perseverance, and ultimately triumph.”
Denhollander is an attorney, author, advocate and educator recognized as a leading voice on the topic of sexual abuse, who was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2018. She’s an op-ed contributor to the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and Vox who holds a JD from Oak Brook College of Law and an honorary doctorate from the American University of Paris.
Eser most recently adapted the screenplay for a film based on Trevor Noah’s bestselling memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhoodwhich has Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o attached to star.
Game1 is a burgeoning, bicoastal studio that has maintained a mandate from its inception in 2020 to develop standout content across all formats, including feature films, scripted and unscripted television, digital and social content, as well as audio content and podcasts. In the process, it has teamed up with an array of blue-chip content partners—including some of the most recognizable athletes, professional sports franchises, leagues and media companies in the world. Past releases from the company include Halle Berry’s feature directorial debut Bruised for Netflix, which rose to the #1 film slot on the streamer last fall, and Ric Roman Waugh’s National Champions.