IFC Films has acquired U.S. rights to Mary Magdalene, the biopic from Lion director Garth Davis that had been in the clutches of The Weinstein Company in the midst of its collapse and eventual sale. Now the pic starring Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix and Chiwetel Ejiofor joins the likes of Hotel Mumbai as a former TWC pic that has found a new home, and IFC has set an April 12 theatrical release date for it.
The pic, which depicts the life of perhaps the most trusted confidant of Jesus Christ, was written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, and Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Liz Watts produced.
The movie’s long journey started with being acquired by TWC in February 2016, reuniting the distributor with Davis from their Lion tie-up. An Easter weekend 2018 release date was eventually set before TWC pulled it off the schedule (along with two other languishing titles, The War With Grandpa and The Upside) in January 2018 in the wake of two explosive exposés in the New Yorker and New York Times in October 2017 began Harvey Weinstein’s downfall at the company, which was forced to declare bankruptcy leaving several films in limbo.
In the meantime, producers See-Saw Films and Porchlight Films launched it with a world premiere at the National Gallery in London, and international rightsholder Focus Features released the pic in several overseas territories to lukewarm response in March 2018; it has grossed $11.6 million in its theatrical life so far.
Mary Magdalene tells the story of one of the most misunderstood women in history, alternately vilified as a sinner and canonized as a saint. In the First Century A.D., the free-spirited Mary (Mara) flees the marriage her family has arranged for her, finding a sense of purpose in a radical new movement led by the charismatic, defiant preacher Jesus of Nazareth (Phoenix). The sole woman among his band of disciples, Mary defies the prejudices of her patriarchal society. She undergoes a profound spiritual awakening, becomes drawn into conflict with Jesus’s apostles Peter (Ejiofor) and Judas (Tahar Rahim), and finds herself at the center of an earth-shaking historical moment.
Arianna Bocco, EVP Acquisitions and Productions at IFC Films/Sundance Selects/IFC Midnight, sealed the IFC deal with UTA on behalf of the filmmakers.
“The film daringly challenges conventional wisdom while telling a remarkable story with nuance, grace, and respect,” Bocco said. “Garth Davis is an incredible talent, and we’re thrilled to be working with him and See-Saw Films to bring this film to audiences throughout the country.”