Film based on life of medical phenom, H.M.

Columbia Pictures and producer Scott Rudin have acquired rights to make a film based on the life of Henry Molaison, whose brain became the most studied gray matter in medical history.

Molaison became known in medical circles as H.M., the man who emerged from an experimental brain operation with a calamitous side effect: The removal of brain tissue in a procedure designed to halt seizures left him unable to form new memories.

Studio has completed a deal for screen rights to a memoir that just sold to Scribner and which will be written by Dr. Suzanne Corkin, the doctor who worked with Molaison for 45 years.

The plan is to develop a film about H.M. as seen through the eyes of Corkin, a professor of behavioral neuroscience in the Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. Columbia and Rudin also acquired rights to Philip Hilts’ “Memory’s Ghost: The Nature of Memory and the Strange Tale of Mr. M,” a 1996 book written about H.M.

H.M. came to the forefront after the New York Times ran a prominent obit in early December when Molaison passed away at 82 of respiratory failure. Rudin, his Rudin Prods. prexy Mark Roybal and Col co-prexy Matt Tolmach began a vigorous effort to tie up resources to make a movie.

H.M. suffered a head injury in a fall at age 9, but it was unclear why he developed progressively more violent seizures, with blackouts and convulsions so serious that he was forced to give up his work fixing motors. Lobotomies were considered radical fixes for seizures when H.M. received the surgery in 1953.

After the procedure, he could remember only things that occurred in his life and the world before the operation. Scientists used his misfortune to study the brain and memory, with H.M. serving as a willing patient for decades.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more