Many studios have tried to duplicate the success of Mel Gibson's 2004 blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ" from New Line's disappointing "The Nativity" to an entire Fox division, Fox Faith, which was eventually shuttered. Still, faith-based success stories such as last fall's stunning and completely underreported indie "Fireproof," which grossed over $33 million, has kept the genre alive. Now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, MGM is teaming up with Aloe Entertainment in an attempt to buck that trend and has recruited some impressive names to chronicle the story of Jesus' mother in "Mary."
Snagging the title role is Camilla Belle, whose latest film, "Push" opens in theaters today. She'll be joined by "The Tudor's" Jonathan Rhys Meyers who will play the dual roles of Gabriel and Lucifer. Also on board is cinematic legend Peter O'Toole is set to play Symeon the Righteous who blessed the baby Jesus and his family.
Al Pacino and Jessica Lange are also being recruited in the respective roles of Herod and Anna the Prophetess, but have not yet agreed to appear.
"Mary" will be directed by Argentinean filmmaker Alejandro Agresti who is best known to American moviegoers for directing the romantic drama "The Lake House."
Trying to distance themselves from the "Nativity Story," producer Mary Aloe told the trade paper, "This is not a Christmas movie. This is 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. It is truly a story of real female empowerment."
Production on "Mary" is expected to begin this May in Morocco for an expected spring 2010 release.
Camilla Belle finds faith as 'Mary' in new religous drama
MGM also trying to recruit Al Pacino and Jessica Lange