Australian director Alister Grierson has signed a deal to direct "Mary Mother of Christ," a Biblical story to be distributed in the United States by Lionsgate.
The deal was announced at the Cannes Film Festival, where Hyde Park Entertainment is currently handling international sales.
Grierson's previous films include the 3D underwater thriller "Sanctum," which was released last year, and 2006's World War II action film "Kokoda."
Benedict Fitzgerald, who co-wrote the screenplay for Mel Gibson's blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ," co-wrote "Mary Mother of Christ" with Barbara Nicolosi.
Israeli actress Odeya Rush has been cast in the title role, while other actors will include Julia Ormond and Peter O'Toole. The press release announcing the deal says that producers Mary Aloe and Shawn Williamson are currently negotiating with "one of England's most famous Academy Award winners" to play Herod.
The release also couldn't resist describing the Biblical tale in Hollywood terms, claiming that "Mary Mother of Christ" is "considered to be the Biblical prequel to the story of 'The Passion of the Christ.'"
Filming will begin this summer in the Middle East. Lionsgate plans a wide release, along with a faith-based marketing campaign that will make use of executive producer Joel Osteen, pastor of the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.