A movie about Christmas by the company that produced the Oscar-winning "The Lord of the Rings" will make its world premiere at the Vatican this month.
New Line Cinema's "The Nativity Story," which opens in the United States and Italy on Dec. 1, will be screened at the Vatican's Pope Paul VI Hall on Nov. 26, Vatican officials said Friday. New Line is a unit of Time Warner Inc.
It was not yet known if Pope Benedict XVI would attend the screening, said Claudia Di Giovanni, from the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
Producers said in a statement that 7,000 people would be invited to the premiere, and that proceeds from the event would go toward the construction of a school in a village in Israel about 25 miles from Nazareth, the town of Jesus' childhood. The statement said that the village, Mughar, has a diverse population, including Christians and Muslims.
Mughar is one of the towns hit by rockets fired by Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrillas over the summer.
Di Giovanni said that the screening would be preceded by a reading from the Gospels and a prayer "to give a spiritual aspect" to the event.
The movie stars Keisha Castle-Hughes, of "Whale Rider" fame, who plays the role of Mary, and Oscar Isaac, who stars as Joseph. "The Nativity Story" is directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who did "Lords of Dogtown."
Di Giovanni said that while some made-for-TV movies have had their premieres at the Vatican, it is believed that "The Nativity Story" will be the first feature film to have its premiere there.
Earlier this year, Benedict watched a made-for-TV movie, "Karol, A Pope Who Remained Man," at a screening at the Vatican. The movie explored the life of his predecessor, John Paul II, who died in 2005.