After disappearing from the U.S. release date calendar in the wake of allegations leveled against The Weinstein Company founder and producer Harvey Weinstein, Garth Davis’ historical look at the life of Mary Magdalene has found a new home at IFC Films. “Mary Magdalene,” the “Lion” director’s second film, stars Rooney Mara in the eponymous role as one of Jesus’ closest confidants, with Joaquin Phoenix playing Jesus and Chiwetel Ejiofor appearing as Peter.
“Mary Magdalene” was originally set to be released by The Weinstein Company in March 2018, before founder and producer Weinstein was hit with multiple allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, leading to the dissolution of the boutique distributor (which is now owned by Lantern Capital). The film premiered at the National Gallery in London in February 2018, and it was released in the UK in March 2018 by Focus Features. IFC will release the film in the U.S. this spring, with an April 12 release date already lined up. “Mary Magdalene” was produced by See-Saw Films and Porchlight Films.
Per the film’s official synopsis, it “tells the moving 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, drawing her into conflict with Jesus’s apostles Peter (Ejiofor) and Judas (Tahar Rahim), and finds herself at the center of an earth-shaking historical moment.”
In an official statement about the acquisition, Arianna Bocco EVP of Acquisitions and Productions of IFC Films, said, “The film daringly challenges conventional wisdom while telling a remarkable story with nuance, grace, and respect. 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.”
In his IndieWire review of the film, Mike McCahill wrote: “Davis arguably reclaims this story from the religious right, rerouting it away from lacerated, victimized flesh and back toward tolerant souls: he’s aided by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson’s typically searching final score, and cinematographer Greig Fraser, who – while not on ‘Bright Star’ form – stages the odd fresco of bodies at prayer that might have made even a syphilitic Old Master offer thanks to the heavens.”
Other former TWC films have found homes elsewhere, including “The Upside,” which was released in January by STX Entertainment and has made over $100 million at the box office. Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9” debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival this past September and was then released by Briarcliff Entertainment. Two high-profile former TWC titles still without homes: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s “The Current War,” which premiered at TIFF 2017, and the Robert De Niro-starring comedy “The War With Grandpa.”