The federal government will earn future profits off of an upcoming film about the early life of Jesus' mother Mary, backed by popular Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen.
Drug trafficker Jorge Vazquez Sanchez, who is currently under indictment in the U.S. on federal charges for money laundering and extortion, has agreed to hand over his 10 percent of future profits for the "Mary, Mother of Christ" film under the terms of a new plea deal, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Vazquez's business partner Mauricio Sanchez Garza and another Mexican businessman, Arturo Madrigal, reportedly obtained the script for the film in 2006 and resold it to Aloe Entertainment. The script sold for nearly a million dollars with a clause for additional earnings from the total profits of the film.
Prosecutors say that Sanchez and Vazquez extorted Madrigal out of his share from the sale of the film's script and future profits by threatening him and kidnapping his brother.
Vazquez has admitted to forcing Madrigal to sign over his rights of the screenplay to him and the trafficker is set to enter a guilty plea on Thursday. He will also plead guilty to another charge that he helped two other traffickers launder money into Texas. Vazquez could spend up to two decades behind bars.
"Mary, Mother of Christ" is an upcoming historical film that will retrace the life of Mary from her youth to her struggles as a young mother caring for her child, Jesus, up to the age of four-years-old. Many predict that it is set to be a box office success similar to Mel Gibson's, "Passion of the Christ."
Shooting for the upcoming biopic has not yet occurred but is scheduled to take place on location in Italy, Jordan, and British Columbia. The faith-based film will star Hollywood actors Camilla Belle as Mary, Peter O'Toole as Symeon, and Diogo Morgado as Joseph the carpenter.
"Under the reign of terror of Herod the Great and against all odds, Mary and Joseph survive as young parents in one of the most treacherous times in history," the plot summary from Aloe Entertainment reads online.
Lakewood Church Pastor Joel Osteen will be the executive producer to the film. It will be Osteen's first foray into film production.
"Minister Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church, the most prominent Christian Evangelical minister in the world, has signed on his first movie ever as Executive Producer with a massive marketing and promotion plan," Aloe Entertainment's website reads.
"Mary, Mother of Christ" is expected to be released in 2013.