A few years ago, MGM was on the brink of collapse after filing for bankruptcy; however, the studio has come roaring back and is set to tackle the familiar story of "Ben-Hur," as Deadline reports that the studio has optioned a spec script.
Keith Clarke ("The Way Back") penned the script, which is already being cited as a more faithful adaptation of Lew Wallace's original novel. While the film will focus on the familiar tale of Judah Ben-Hur and Messala, the boyhood friends who eventually become bitter enemies, it will also "tell the parallel tale of Jesus Christ," whom Ben-Hur frequently encounters.
This will mark the third feature film adaptation of "Ben-Hur," as MGM also produced and distributed the original 1925 silent film and the immortal 1959 classic starring Charlton Heston as the title character. Technically, MGM isn't just thumbing through their back catalog, as the book is now public domain, so this new film shouldn't be considered a remake of either film (in fact, is said to be "much different" from William Wyler's film).
Clarke will join producers Sean Daniel, Joni Levin, and Jason Brown to produce the film, which has no other talent attached so far. In a statement, Daniel referred to the novel as "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."
The story has proven to be enduring as well; for decades, only The Bible itself outsold Wallace's book until the release of "Gone With the Wind."
As Deadline points out, this version of "Ben-Hur" joins a crowded slate of other biblical films in production. Warner Brothers is currently developing "Pontious Pilate" and has attached Brad Pitt to star, while both Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott are eyeing separate Moses projects. Finally , Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" (starring Russell Crowe) is set for release next year.
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