RIO DE JANEIRO — Flush from the success of Hector Babenco’s prison drama “Carandiru,” Columbia TriStar has high hopes for another local pic, “Maria, a mae do filho de Deus” (Mary, the Mother of God’s Son).

Columbia is co-producing the $2.6 million epic about the life of the Virgin Mary with lead producer Diler & Associados. The studio will distribute.

Lensing began June 18 in a Rio studio and will wrap July 20. Col is planning an Oct. 10 bow with 300 copies, a wide release for a local production. Brazilians will celebrate the Virgin of Aparecida holiday during opening weekend.

Pic toplines Giovanna Antonelli, with Luige Bariccelli as Jesus and vet Jose Wilker (“Bye Bye Brasil”) as Pontius Pilate.

Local celebrity priest Father Marcelo Rossi, famous for his CDs of religious songs, will portray a priest who recounts the story of Virgin Mary to a child.

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“Carandiru,” an HB production with Columbia and Globo Filmes about the 1992 riot at the infamous prison, opened April 4 with 247 copies. Through June 16, that pic has sold 4.4 million tickets and grossed 28.7 million reais ($9.9 million).