EXCLUSIVE: The controversial documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe is getting a booster shot from the Middle Kingdom. Distributor Cinema Libre Studio has partnered with China’s Gaia Studio to significantly expand the U.S. release. The Chinese group also is planning to release the film in Taiwan and Hong Kong and has designs on a Chinese run. They are teaming with Cinema Libre to create a joint venture in the PROC, the new partners say.
The doc, which claims that Big Pharma and U.S. health authorities covered up a purported link between the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine and an uptick in autism, caused a big stir in March when it was invited to, and then pulled from, the Tribeca Film Festival. The film first had the backing of TFF co-founder Robert De Niro and his wife, who are the parents of a child with autism. De Niro agreed to yank the film in the wake of criticism surrounding the filmmakers, chiefly a doctor whose research had been discredited and whose license to practice had been revoked.
The film’s subject matter has provoked angry confrontations between those convinced of a conspiracy to cover up the “truth” about the vaccine’s potential for irreversible damage and those who insist that no such link exists — and that denying children the vaccination puts an enormous population at grave risk.
Vaxxed ultimately released on April 1 at New York’s Angelika Film Center and grossed a little more than $59K in three weeks. At the Laemmle Film Center in Santa Monica, it took in more than $20K in its first week. It is currently playing in 20 U.S. theaters.
Partnering with Gaia gives Cinema Libre the financial resources it needs to grow the run, with the partners planning a nationwide expansion within the next few weeks. It also will be seeking foreign deals at next week’s Cannes Film Market.
Cinema Libre and Gaia also are in discussions to create a joint venture in China to release the company’s library of high-concept documentaries and features. Gaia, which has offices in China and the U.S., is a film and TV distribution, finance and production company which was established in 2007. Its credits are said to include Battle of the Warriors and Rest on Your Shoulder.