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Polio Vaccine Movie ‘The Impossible War’ in the Works

Variety logo Variety 2/8/2017 Dave McNary
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Black Bear Pictures is launching development on “The Impossible War,” a movie chronicling efforts by Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin to develop anti-polio vaccines.

Black Bear won the auction for Robert Specland’s script and will team with Pacific View Management & Production to produce and fully finance the movie. Black Bear’s Teddy Schwarzman and Ben Stillman will produce with Pacific View’s Peter Dealbert.

Salk needed seven years to develop the first polio vaccine in 1955, three years after a U.S. epidemic killed more than 3,000 in the worst polio outbreak in the nation’s history. The vaccine was declared safe and effective by test monitors on April 12, 1955 — 10 years to the day after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the most widely recognized polio victim of that era. Sabin developed the oral polio vaccine, which came into use in 1961.

Black Bear produced “The Imitation Game,” “Gold” and “Mudbound,” which sold last month following its well-received premiere at the Sundance Film Festival to Netflix in a multi-territory deal for $12.5 million. It recently wrapped production on George Clooney’s “Suburbicon,” starring Matt Damon and Julianne Moore.

Specland script “Nyad” made the 2015 Black List. The screenplay is based on the true story of marathon swimmer Diana Nyad, who in 2013, after four failed attempts and at the age of 64, became the first person ever to complete the 103-mile swim from Cuba to Florida.

Specland is also teamed with Neal Baer on the legal drama “The Verdict.” He is repped by UTA, Dealbert of Pacific View Management and attorney Fred Toczek of Toczek Suddelson. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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