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Film News Roundup: Vaccine Documentary ‘Pathological Optimist’ Lands at Film Arcade, Gravitas

In today’s film news roundup, Miranda Bailey’s vaccine documentary “The Pathological Optimist” gets distribution and Lionsgate teams with Roadside Attractions to pick up faith-based drama “I Can Only Imagine.”

ACQUISITIONS

The Film Arcade and Gravitas Ventures have acquired rights to Miranda Bailey’s documentary “The Pathological Optimist,” centered on anti-vaccination crusader Dr. Andrew Wakefield.

The film will be released theatrically by the Film Arcade on Sept. 29 followed by a VOD release via Gravitas later this year.

The film is a character study of Wakefield, one of 13 co-authors of a 1998 paper in the U.K. medical journal the Lancet. That paper claimed that there was a link between the administration of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and the appearance of autism and bowel disease. 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.

Wakefield allowed Bailey and her team to follow him and his family for five years beginning in 2011 as he fought a defamation battle in the courts against the British Medical Journal and journalist Brian Deer.

“The Pathological Optimist” was executive produced by Jennifer Fox. The deal was brokered by Josh Spector on behalf of Gravitas Ventures and by attorney Greg S. Bernstein on behalf of the Film Arcade.

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Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions have acquired rights to Jon and Andrew Erwin’s faith-based drama “I Can Only Imagine,” and set a North American release for March 16.

The film stars Dennis Quaid, Cloris Leachman, country music singer Trace Adkins, author and actress Priscilla Shirer, Madeline Carroll, and Broadway actor J. Michael Finley. It centers on the song “I Can Only Imagine,” written by Bart Millard, lead singer of the Christian band MercyMe.

“I Can Only Imagine” was produced by Kevin Downes, Cindy Bond, and Daryl Lefever. Travis Mann, Scott Brickell, and Simon Swart serve as executive producers.

Quaid is represented by WME, Leachman is represented by Innovative Artists, CAA represents Adkins, and Finley is represented by Abrams Artists Agency. Carroll is represented by Untitled Entertainment and Shirer is represented by Going Beyond Ministries. MercyMe is signed to Fair Trade Records.

The deal was negotiated for Lionsgate by Constantine, Eda Kowan, and Lauren Freeman. Cohen negotiated the deal on behalf of Roadside Attractions. Kevin Downes negotiated the deal for the producers along with Thomas Vidal of Pryor Cashman LLP.

PROMOTIONS

Lyft is expanding its partnership with former Vice President Al Gore, Participant Media, and Paramount Pictures to promote “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” offering 20% off Lyft Line ride.

The promotion started last week for moviegoers in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The offer is available in those cities as well as Boston, Washington D.C., Miami, San Diego, and Seattle.

This sequel to Gore’s  film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” highlights how the dangers of climate change have never been greater — but can be overcome with human ingenuity.

COMPANY ACQUISITION

MarketCast has acquired Fizziology, a social insights and analytics company in the media and entertainment space, for an undisclosed price.

Fizziology specializes in converting the opinions shared on social media platforms (including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Sina Weibo, and more) into contextualized data and strategic insights for marketers and creators. MarketCast works in collaboration with clients across the entertainment spectrum to test and optimize their content, marketing, and distribution strategies, worldwide.

Fizziology is bringing its software development team – the Able Few – in-house. Investment bank JEGI served as financial adviser to MarketCast, and Ropes & Gray LLP served as legal counsel to MarketCast.

AWARDS SEASON

The Writers Guild of America has announced the submission period is now open for the 2018 WGA Documentary Screenplay Award.

Submissions will be accepted from Aug. 14 through Nov. 17, 2017.

Theatrical documentaries must have been written under the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement or under a bona fide collective bargaining agreement of the Writers Guild of Canada, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Writers’ Guild of Ireland, Writers’ Guild of South Africa, New Zealand Writers Guild, Film Writers’ Association (India), La Guilde Francaise des Scénaristes (France), Scriptwriters Guild of Israel, the Société des Auteurs de Radio, Télévision et Cinéma (Québec) or Verband Deutscher Drehbuchautoren (VDD/Germany).

Documentaries must contain an on-screen writing credit and have been exhibited theatrically in Los Angeles or New York for at least one week during 2017. Scripts must be feature length (more than 40 minutes).

Documentaries that received their first public exhibition via broadcast or cable television are not eligible for Writers Guild Awards consideration. Foreign-language films are eligible, provided they feature English-language subtitles.

PRODUCING

Paul Allen’s Vulcan Prods. has come on board to produce the documentary “Ghost Fleet,” which chronicles the global human trafficking network of fishing slaves.

Directed by Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron, the film centers on Thailand’s fishing industry, which supplies a large portion of the world’s seafood. Human traffickers sell captives from Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and across Southeast Asia. As many as 4,000 slaves currently work in the Thailand’s seafood industry.

Allen is executive producing with U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Julia Ormond, Louis Psihoyos, Geralyn Dreyfous, Shannon Joy and Shari Sant Plummer. The film is currently in production.

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