Mark Burnett and Roma Downey Now Own Anything God-Related, Bringing Us ‘Ben-Hur’



It really has been a good year to be in the business of God. The Year of the Lord 2014 has brought us, among others, films that chronicle the story of the Great Flood and animals that came by boat, two by two (Noah), a five-year-old’s near-death experience that showed him that Heaven is definitely, totally more than just a place on Earth (Heaven is For Real) and a college student’s quest to prove his evil college professor wrong when he makes his case for atheism (God’s Not Dead). And later this year we’ll get another entry with Ridley Scott‘s take on a Christian Bale Moses with Exodus.

The mega-successful, god fearing producing duo of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are old hat with the genre, churning out the popular miniseries The Bible for the History Channel in 2013. It did exactly what the title suggests, telling in glorious live action the stories of the Old and New Testament — all the way up to the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ — so that those who weren’t satisfied with repeatedly drilled Sunday School tellings of the tales or old technicolor movies could see for themselves what Jesus was all about. Apparently, it’s ratings.

The couple also released Son of God this February, a movie that chronicled the life and times and teachings of Jesus, from his immaculate conception to his resurrection from the dead, as another entry in their religious resume. The success of their film and their miniseries worldwide proved that they have an audience that wants to learn about Christianity and wants to see their faith praised onscreen. Praise Jesus, hallelujah amen.

So who better to take the reins on producing a retelling of the classic tale Ben-Hur than Burnett and Downey? The film is not a remake of the beloved 1959 film that starred Charlton Heston in the titular role. It will be more closely based on the original source material, Lew Wallace’s 1880 book “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” with particular focus on the parts taking place prior to the events adapted for the much-abridged 1959 version.

Downey and Burnett do have a lot to live up to. That classic adaptation of Ben-Hur won 11 Oscars in it’s heyday. But with a script from Keith Clarke and 12 Years a Slave‘s Tom Ridley, and direction from Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), they might have a bit of a shot. 

Hey, a kid already proved that Heaven is ferreal this year. God works in mysterious ways.

In childhood, Samantha had a Mary Katherine Gallagher-esque flair for the dramatic, as well as the same penchant for Lifetime original movies. And while she can still quote the entire monologue from A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story, her tastes in film have luckily changed. During an interview, director Tommy Wiseau once called her a “good reporter, but not that intimidating if we’re being honest.” She once lived in Chinatown and told her neighbor Jake to “forget it” so many times that he threatened to stop talking to her.

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