The biblical drama Mary Magdalene will finally have a wide release this April. The Weinstein Company was initially supposed to distribute the film, however the Harvey Weinstein scandal complicated the release schedule. Now IFC Films has acquired Mary Magdalene.
Directed by Garth Davis, Mary Magdalene stars Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus Christ and Rooney Mara as the title character. In the canonical gospels, Mary Magdalene is referenced more than Jesus’ apostles, and the film chronicles her unique relationship with the founder of Christianity, as she allegedly witnessed his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Production began in October 2016, and the film was originally scheduled for a Nov. 27, 2017 release, and then pushed to March 2018. After The New York Times and The New Yorker published their Weinstein exposés in October 2017, Mary Magdalene was shelved once again, and the producers ultimately searched for a new distributor.
Per EW, IFC Films will release Mary Magdalene in theaters on April 12. According to a press release, the film will highlight “one of the most misunderstood women in history.” In 2018, IFC Films distributed 19 feature films, including Mary Shelley, The House That Jack Built, The Death of Stalin, and Wildlife. Last January, IFC Films released Joe Chappelle’s An Acceptable Loss starring Tika Sumpter and Jamie Lee Curtis. Founded in 1999, IFC Films is owned by AMC Networks, and one of the company’s first releases was Alfonso Cuarón’s 2001 film Y Tu Mamá También starring Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna.
For Mary Magdalene, Chiwetel Ejiofor has a starring role alongside Phoenix and Mara. The 41-year-old British Nigerian actor will portray Peter, one of Jesus’ 12 Apostles. Ejiofor wrote, directed and starred in the 2019 Netflix film The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and he will soon be featured in both The Lion King and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
Mary Magdalene marks the final film for composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. The Icelandic artist earned Academy Award nominations for The Theory of Everything and Sicario. In 2016, Jóhannsson received a Golden Globe nomination for Arrival, this coming after he’d previously won for The Theory of Everything in 2014. After finishing the score for Mandy, Jóhannsson died from an accidental overdose on Feb. 9, 2018. He was 48 years old.
Aside from Phoenix, Mara, and Ejiofor, Mary Magdalene doesn’t necessarily have a high-profile supporting cast. But that’s a good thing, as biblical dramas should emphasize the story, rather than the star power. Director Davis previously worked with Mara for 2016’s Lion, so hopefully Mary Magdalene will feel natural and organic. Perhaps it all depends on Phoenix’s performance as none other than the Almighty One.