The story of Ben-Hur has a long history of success. It started off as an 1880 novel by Lew Wallace called “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” which was so popular upon its release that it trailed only the bible in sales up until “Gone With the Wind” came along and usurped it. It was then adapted into a film, called simply Ben-Hur, by William Wyler in 1959. That film starred Charlton Heston, it won 11 Academy Awards, and it has been pretty continuously watched by every new generation that’s come along since its release. If there’s one thing the story of Ben-Hur probably isn’t though, it’s hip, so MGM has plans to remake it with modern actors and a more modern touch.
The plan started out when the studio bought a spec script by Keith Clark (The Way Back) that offers up a new adaptation of the classic tale of a Jewish prince sold into slavery, so the logical next step toward making this new Ben-Hur a reality seems to be finding a director. Who would be a safe bet when it comes to retelling such a beloved, epic tale? Maybe someone like Peter Jackson, who did a good job handling epic scope and sacred material with the Lord of the Rings movies? Maybe someone like Darren Aronofsky, who just got done making a biblical epic with Noah and is probably still in the zone? Nope. Turns out they’re looking at the guy who directed Wanted.
The story comes from Deadline, who report that the deal is far from signed, sealed, and delivered at this point, but negotiations are currently ongoing, and if the numbers work out on both party’s ends, Timur Bekmambetov is going to be their guy. This news is, of course, likely to be met with a reaction of panic from film fans everywhere. For one thing, the entire notion that the 1959 version of Ben-Hur is dated or begging for a remake seems silly, and is symptomatic of Hollywood’s current money see, monkey do approach to filmmaking, where if one studio comes out with a biblical epic, suddenly all of the others feels like they need to have one in development too. For another, if a Ben-Hur remake did need to be made, who the heck would pick the guy who made movies about curving bullets and Abraham Lincoln hunting vampires to do it?
Normally the best way to approach movie news like this is to look on the bright side of the story and try to focus on the things that might go right, but this one is kind of impossible to think about without being confronted by horrific visions of a chariot race full of cheesy slow motion and fake-looking computer effects.
Oh God, no, make it stop. Just make the visions go away.