A feature film about Jesus Christ's mother, Mary, is scheduled to begin shooting in May and slated for a spring 2010 release through MGM, according to industry insiders.
Cast to play the widely revered figure in "Mary, Mother of Christ," is Camilla Belle, who stars in the recently released sci-fi action movie "Push." Jonathan Rhys Meyers, meanwhile, who starred alongside Scarlett Johansson in the dramatic thriller "Matchpoint," will reportedly take on the double role of Gabriel and Lucifer.
Mary Aloe, one of the film's producers, told the Hollywood Reporter that the upcoming film would not be a Christmas movie, but a film on a part of Mary's life that has never been shown on the big screen before.
"It takes us through Mary's youth, young love, her life as a new mother and the triumph through the absolute terror of Herod the Great's reign," she said. "It is truly a story of real female empowerment."
Though the last big Bible-based flick, "The Nativity Story," pulled in only $37.6 million after its December 2006 release, "Mary" producers are likely hoping for figures closer to the $370 million that Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" racked up in 2004.
Alejandro Agresti ("The Lake House") has been picked to direct the film and Media 8 Entertainment, which is debuting the project in Berlin at the European Film Market, will handle international sales and distribution, according to Hollywood Reporter.
Filmmakers have also reportedly been trying to recruit Al Pacino and Jessica Lange for the respective roles of King Herod and Anna the Prophetess, who prophesied about Jesus Christ at the Temple of Jerusalem. According to Variety magazine, the two Hollywood stars are in talks with Aloe Entertainment, which is putting together the New Testament ensemble for "Mary."
MGM plans to release the film wide in 2,000-plus theaters April 2, 2010, which coincides with Good Friday.
A budget for the film has not yet been revealed, but it will likely be somewhere around the $30 million spent to produce "The Passion" or the $35 million it took to produce "The Nativity Story."