‘Ben-Hur’ Remake Moved to August

'Ben Hur' Release Delayed Until August
Courtesy of MGM

MGM and Paramount Pictures have moved the release of “Ben Hur” by nearly six months — from Feb. 26 to Aug. 12.

“Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” both performed well in August so the studio likely believes that part of the summer summer is the best time to unspool a tentpole epic. The upcoming Olympics also provides an ideal advertising platform.

The film stars Jack Huston as the titular Jewish prince betrayed into slavery by Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Mark Burnett, Sean Daniel and Joni Levin are producing the film.

“Wanted” director Timur Bekmambetov is helming from a screenplay originally written by Keith Clarke, with revisions by “12 Years a Slave” writer John Ridley, who will exec produce along with Clarke, Roma Downey and Jason F. Brown.

The project began taking shape in 2013 when MGM acquired Clarke’s script, an adaptation of Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” which is now in the public domain. The story focuses on the years prior to those portrayed in the 1959 film, centering on the characters Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem, and his childhood friend Messala, who returns home as a commanding officer of the Roman legions and betrays the Ben-Hur family.

The 1959 movie, which was set in ancient Rome, was directed by William Wyler and produced by Sam Zimbalist. It starred Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins and Hugh Griffith and won 11 Oscars, including best picture.

The 1925 movie version of “Ben-Hur,” starring Ramon Novarro and Francis X. Bushman, was also a major success.

“Ben Hur” will face competition in the August slot from Disney’s family film “Pete’s Dragon,” Sony’s animated “Sausage Party” and Universal’s actioner “Spectral.”

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  1. Dave J says:

    Instead of real horses, it’s going to be replaced with CGI ones! And many of it’s fight scenes are going to be replaced with blue screen on the back ground similar to the Hercules movies!

  2. Ken says:

    I’m smelling another EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS debacle here…

  3. Steve says:

    The Charlton Heston version is easily on my top 20 films of all time. Trying to outdo that is kinda of madness. It won’t have the giant sets and cast, nor the giant running time of 3+ hours. The movie is done, so now all we can do is see if its any good with my money.

  4. cadavra says:

    Just in time for Tisha B’av!

    (For the Jewish-challenged, it’s an August holiday which is considered the saddest day of the year.)

  5. Ben says:

    Something tells me this is NOT going to win 11 Oscars.

  6. JE Vizzusi says:

    Mentioning the originals won’t help! And since nobody under 40 has every seen them, I suppose a new market approach is worth budgeting more for the tri make that both classics together. Wrangling 1000 Arabian horses abd building sets the size of Compton won’t be a problem with massive amounts of CGI. But somewhere today or near future, producers must look themselves in the mirror and ask, why? 1925 Ben Hur, possibly the greatest of all Silent era films and the remake no chop liver. I dread to think a modern computerized manipulation even with great acting and storyline will, could and ever come close. I realize.. judge each movie on its own merit, but this is beyond the comprehension of Hollywood’s lack of originality.

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