'Ben Hur' Gets a Reboot

Ben Hur, movies/tv
Paramount Pictures/ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

The director says it's a ‘completely different movie' than the 1959 classic.

In the age of reboots it's not surprising that production company's would jump at the chance to remake Ben Hur one of cinema's greatest epics. The 1959 epic historical drama originally directed by William Wyler won a record breaking 11 Academy Awards in its release year and set the record for Academy Award wins for decades until the release of *Titanic *which came out 38 years later in 1997.

You'd think that'd be enough to set the standard for the movie, that viewers would be satisfied enough with such accomplishments and good to watch a film that had been labeled by the Library of Congress as a "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" motion picture. That filmmakers would be too intimidated to take on the film behemoth and package it up into a remake. But not so. Mark Burnett (executive producer of "The Voice") and Roma Downey (creator of the The Mummy franchise) have fearlessly taken on the task of recreating the compelling story about a Palestinian Jew who seeks revenge against the Roman empire during the time of Christ. The collaboration is helmed by director Timur Bekmambetov.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Charlton Heston starring as Ben Hur in the 1959 classic

This isn't just any other reboot though, so says Bekmambetov who directed the Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

"This is a completely different movie, based on a different script, with a different idea at its core," he says. Like the 1959 film starring Charlton Heston the new movie is a take on the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace. This time though, it is set to center around a prince who digs himself out of the trenches of slavery and into freedom after becoming falsely accused of being a traitor. The tone and story, Bekmambetov claims it will stay a little more true to Wallace's original novel. He also says it presents a different message.

Paramount Pictures/ Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman star in the film

"The world has changed a lot and the revenge theme that was used in the 1959 film feels even more visceral in today's world," Bekmambetov says of his take. "Our film emphasizes instead the importance of forgiveness."

Still, despite these differences the film has been already expected to be a bit of a box office disappointed. [The Hollywood Reporter revealed it was on track to have a debut earn of $14–15 million](http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/box-office-ben-hur-tracking-915266, quite a loss for a production that is reported to have cost $100 million.

The film opens Friday and will star Jack Hucston ("Boardwalk Empire") as Judah Ben-Hur, and Toby Kebbel (Fantastic Four) Hur's sworn Roman enemy, Messala. Morgan Freeman, that Good Housekeeping Seal of Cinematic Approval, is Ilderim, the Arab sheik who befriends Ben-Hur and whose horses he uses in the chariot race.