MGM Fires Up Remake of Charlton Heston Oscar Classic 'Ben-Hur'
Another day, another remake. What better way to restore a studio's former glory than
drag revive beloved classic 11-time Oscar winner Ben-Hur, from 1959, directed by William Wyler starring Charlton Heston. Deadline is now reporting that MGM is "planning to unleash" a new version of Ben-Hur, which I suppose isn't exactly a remake since they're going back to the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ, written by Lew Wallace, to adapt this brand new take. While there are producers and a writer on-board with a spec script, no director is attached yet and it's all just part of a purchase MGM has made of the project. Read on!
The 1959 Ben-Hur, which went on to win 11 Oscars, is already a remake of the 1925 silent film of the same name, also based on Lew Wallace's book. It was shot for a budget of $15 million and is an epic historical film set in ancient Rome starring Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur, a wealthy prince from Jerusalem sent into slavery, who regains his freedom and comes back for revenge against his Roman friend. Deadline confirms that "this film will tell the formative story of the characters as they grew up best friends before the Roman Empire" and it's more faithful to the book. They also add "another way the script differs from the movie, in that it will tell the parallel tale of Jesus Christ, with whom Ben-Hur has several encounters which moves him to become a believer in the Messiah, and which culminates in Christ being sentenced to death."
The (spec) screenplay for this new 2013 (or maybe 2015, 2016?) Ben-Hur was written by Keith R. Clarke (In Search of Dr. Seuss, The Way Back). The project also includes Sean Daniel and Joni Levin as producers, with Jason Brown executive producing. "It's one of the great stories of friendship and betrayal, and faith, that works in the context of a big onscreen action thriller for a global audience," Daniel said of the story. Indeed, but can they top the previous films, or do they even need to. Why not Ben-Hur in space? Kidding, kidding. I'm curious to see how this develops and what it becomes, but it better be damn good. Thoughts?