×

MGM’s ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake Draws Timur Bekmambetov

Project focuses on formative years of Judah Ben-Hur

Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”) is in negotiations direct MGM’s reboot of “Ben-Hur,” the studio’s 1959 epic starring Charlton Heston.

Sean Daniel and Joni Levin are producing the the remake. Jason Brown will exec produce with screenwriter Keith Clarke.

The project began taking shape earlier this year when MGM acquired Clarke’s script, adapted from Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.” That story focuses on the years prior to those portrayed 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 novel is in the public domain. The 1959 movie was set in ancient Rome, directed by William Wyler, produced by Sam Zimbalist and starred Heston, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins and Hugh Griffith. It won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

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

Since it emerged two years from a prepackaged bankruptcy, MGM’s film business has been focused on co-financing its James Bond and Hobbit franchises and projects such as ““21 Jump Street” and mining its library for remakes, including “Carrie,” “Robocop” and “Death Wish.”

Bekmambetov last directed “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”

The negotiations were first reported by the Deadline.com site.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content