There are some movies that should not be remade, and if a remake is attemped, it must be handled with extreme caution. Ben-Hur is one such film. Released by MGM in 1959, the film won a record 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture, a feat that has only been matched by 1997’s Titanic and 2003’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Ironically, the 1959 version of the film was itself a remake of the 1925 silent film also released by MGM. Both films are adaptations of the 1880’s novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace.
Well, remake-happy MGM (The Taking of Pelham 123, Red Dawn, Fame) has decided that the classic, record-setting film needs a new version. The studio is currently in talks with Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) to direct the project. While there is no guarantee that the negotiations will be successful, it is curious that MGM would consider a director whose previous films seem to lack the tact necessary to take on such a project as a Ben-Hur remake, if indeed a remake must be done.
Reportedly this new film would stay faithful to the Wallace book, while carving a separate identity from the 1959 film. The film will focus on the formation of the friendship between the Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur and Messala, the son of a Roman tax collector who later betrays his friend. The new film will also place a greater focus on the life of Jesus, whom Ben-Hur meets several times throughout the story.
Sean Daniel and Joni Levin will be producing the Ben-Hur remake which will be filmed from a Keith Clarke (The Way Back) script.