Pellegrino teams with Canadians for religious pic

German producer Roland Pellegrino, who financed the “The Red Baron,” is leaping from the aerial battles of World War I to the streets of ancient Rome.

He’s teaming with Canadian duo Jakob de Boer and Bess Fotopoulus to bring the life of Jesus’ most influential disciple to the big screen.

The English-language “The Sword of Peter” tells the story of the Galilean fisherman who founded the Christian church in Rome. The film explores the early days of Christianity under the reign of Emperor Nero and the burning of Rome in 64 A.D.

Billed as “Gladiator” meets “The Passion of the Christ,” pic is produced by de Boer and Fotopoulus’ Toronto-based FOS with de Boer set to direct from his own script.

“The Sword of Peter” is budgeted at $40 million and will shoot in Italy and Israel. The producers are looking to finance the film by way of Canadian subsidies, international presales and private equity from Germany.

Pellegrino, who specializes in private placement film financing, raised the coin for Niki Muellerschoen’s $23 million-budgeted English-language “Red Baron,” which is being sold worldwide by London-based Hanway.

“Red Baron” is set for release in Germany by Warner Bros. later this year.

Pic, which stars Matthias Schweighoefer, Lena Headey and Joseph Fiennes, is the first German film recounting the brief career of flying ace Manfred von Richthofen, who became the most successful fighter pilot in WWI after shooting down 80 Allied planes.

In Germany, the film will re-introduce the Teutonic top gun to a nation that has long forgotten his exploits.

German visual effects house Pixomondo is putting the final touches on the pic’s major aerial battles and dogfight sequences. That’s why, Hanway says, the pic has not yet been sold internationally.

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