MGM picks up Myriam, Mother of the Christ

Whoa. I am so far behind on my blogging, what with my wife going back to work this week and me becoming the “primary caregiver” to the twins and all, but I really, really, really cannot pass up the opportunity to link to this story from the Hollywood Reporter:

MGM has acquired North American distribution rights to “Myriam, Mother of the Christ,” the biblical story of Mary. The screenplay is written by Benedict Fitzgerald, who penned “The Passion of the Christ.”

The film, slated to bow around Easter 2008, is a dramatic rendering of the key events in Mary’s life leading up to the birth of Jesus and the holy family’s journey from Egypt to Nazareth following the death of King Herod. The story is told from Mary’s point of view as she gradually understands the unfolding of God’s plan and responds to her calling. No director or cast is attached. . . .

Fitzgerald and Richard Garzilli are producing “Myriam” alongside John Garbett and Erik Lomis. . . .

A few quick comments as they come to my mind.

First, it looks like The Nativity Story hasn’t killed the biblical-epic genre after all; heck, it hasn’t even killed Nativity movies.

Second, if the film continues past the birth of Christ to the family’s return to Nazareth, then it could end up covering some of the same territory that I imagine the currently-in-development movie version of Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt will cover.

Third, I don’t know the religious persuasion of any of the names attached to this project, but I do know that Garbett has worked as a producer on Mormon films like The Other Side of Heaven (2001) and The Legend of Johnny Lingo (2003), the latter of which he co-wrote. For some reason I am under the impression that Fitzgerald is a Catholic, though I could be wrong — I do know that Flannery O’Connor was his godmother — so it could be interesting to see how this film navigates the various religious traditions.

Fourth, if this film comes out at Easter 2008 — note, they are not planning to release it at Christmas, despite its subject matter — will it clash with The Resurrection, which Tim LaHaye is producing for Screen Gems? Come to think of it, Screen Gems is owned by Sony, just as MGM is now owned by Sony, or by a partnership involving Sony and other investors, or something like that. Hmmm.

Fifth, it is remarkable to see how various people associated with The Passion of the Christ (2004) have seen the influence of that film resurface in their careers. Not only is Fitzgerald penning yet another script about Jesus and Mary; Hristo Shopov recently reprised his role as Pontius Pilate in The Inquiry, and Jim Caviezel has signed on to do the voice of Jesus for an audio Bible.

I look forward to hearing about further developments on this.

JAN 23 UPDATE: Matt Page at the Bible Films Blog asks some good questions of his own — one of which echoes a thought that flitted through my mind so quickly that I forgot to mention it above.

Like Matt, I wonder if MGM has decided the lesson to be learned from the success of The Passion and the relative failure of The Nativity Story is that Christians will turn out for Christian movies during the build-up to Easter, when there are no big movies to compete against, rather than the densely packed and busy month or so between the American Thanksgiving and Christmas.

JAN 26 UPDATE: Barb Nicolosi at Church of the Masses says she worked on this script “as the co-writer for many months”.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • Anonymous

    Ben Fitzgerald is a very interesting fellow to be writing Hollywood screenplays: a Catholic, a Thomist, and a scholar. I’m emailing a very lengthy interview with him that Variety.com posted in 2004.

    -LP


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