Screenwriter Terry Rossio, best known for “Shrek” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, has teamed with Dr. Jocelyn Stamat to acquire the film rights to a book by “Vaxxed” director Andrew Wakefield.
Rossio and Stamat will adapt Wakefield’s 2010 book “Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines — The Truth Behind a Tragedy” and produce the project through their Chamaeleon Productions banner. As part of the deal, Chamaeleon also secured Wakefield’s life rights.
The book details the key events surrounding the 1998 paper in the British medical journal the Lancet, co-authored by Wakefield, that asserted that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to autism. Wakefield was accused of professional misconduct and falsifying information in that study, and the Lancet retracted the piece in 2010 and the United Kingdom’s General Medical Council revoked Wakefield’s medical license.
“Dr. Wakefield is clearly a polarizing figure, reviled by the general public yet also revered by many,” Rossio said. “The details and drama surrounding his life are even more remarkable than generally known.”
Wakefield’s “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe” was accepted and then rejected by the Tribeca Film Festival. The film is currently playing in New York and Los Angeles through Cinema Libre Studio.
“Vaxxed” was pulled from the Tribeca lineup on March 26 after festival co-founder Robert De Niro explained that it did not contribute to or further the discussion he had hoped for about issues surrounding autism. Cinema Libre came on board to distribute three days later.
“Vaxxed” purports to investigate the claims of a senior scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who revealed that the CDC had allegedly manipulated and destroyed data on an important study about autism and the MMR vaccine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no link between vaccination and autism. The anti-vaccination movement has lowered vaccination rates, which in turn has been linked to a recurrence of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and mumps.