David Wyler is dusting off the family chariot to remake “Ben-Hur.”
Wyler, whose father William Wyler helmed the 1959 Oscar-winning feature starring the late Charlton Heston, is producing the new version as a miniseries with Alchemy TV.
Christian Duguay (“Coco Chanel,” “Human Trafficking”) will direct the $30 million project, which will start lensing this year.
Announcement was made at Mip TV on Wednesday, four days after Heston’s death. Thesp won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of the prince who becomes a slave but wins his freedom in time for the memorable chariot race sequence.
“We’ve got a joke that this is the family business,” Wyler told Daily Variety. “In my mind, this is dedicated to my dad and Chuck. We think it’s a great way to keep his memory alive.”
Alchemy has already sold the miniseries to Spain, Germany and Canada, and Wyler is in negotiations with two networks and a cable channel for the U.S. rights.
The new version will be based more closely on the 1880 Lew Wallace novel than either the 1959 version or 1925 silent adaptation.
Wyler intends to skew the lead role younger, placing Ben-Hur in his mid-20s. New version will also downplay the religious aspects of the source material.
“We want to look at the spirituality within the piece rather than directly relating it to a specific religion,” Wyler said. “It’s a very complex story. It’s been 50 years since my father’s version, and we think we can bring something new and contemporary to it in the same way that ‘Gladiator’ did for that genre.”