At an event in New York, Paramount chairman Brad Grey showed a first look at Martin Scorsese's new film

By Christopher Rosen
October 28, 2016 at 02:40 PM EDT

A first look at Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating new film Silence was unveiled by Paramount Pictures in New York on Thursday night.

The studio held a special presentation for journalists to preview its upcoming slate of features, which includes Scorsese’s epic as well as Denzel Washington’s Fences with Washington and Viola Davis, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival starring Amy Adams, and Robert Zemeckis’ Allied with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.

“We have a strong slate, a diverse group of pictures that reflects the awesome talents and creativity of the artists we work with each and every day,” Brad Grey, Paramount chairman and CEO, said before unveiling footage from the studio’s projects. Of Silence, Grey noted the film was “deeply personal” for Scorsese, who has sought to make Silence for 28 years.

“I believe this film will be remembered as a seminal Scorsese picture,” Grey said.

Based on Shusako Endo’s 1966 novel of the same name, Silence focuses on a Portuguese Jesuit missionary who is persecuted in 17th-century Japan along with other Christian missionaries. Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson star in the film, which was written by Jay Cocks (who also wrote the Scorsese films Age of Innocence and Gangs of New York).

Paramount screened the film’s trailer on Thursday night, a brief, wordless affair that showcased the Silence cast and as well as some sweeping visuals. The movie is set for release on Dec. 23 before a wider run in January.

“The subject matter presented by Shusaku Endo was in my life since I was very, very young,” Scorsese said of Silence last year. “I was very much involved in religion, I was raised in a strong Catholic family. … Further reflection is how [we] want to lead our life in the Christian faith … so ultimately this book drew my attention when it was given to me in 1988.”