‘Wanted’ Director Timur Bekmambetov in Talks to Helm the ‘Ben-Hur’ Reboot

Published 2 years ago by

ben hur reboot director Wanted Director Timur Bekmambetov in Talks to Helm the Ben Hur Reboot

It’s perhaps too soon to argue that Hollywood-ized Biblical epics are making a comeback; that said, there are two noteworthy tentpoles based on religious source material that will arrive in theaters in 2014. The first is director/co-writer Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, an expensive retelling of the Noah’s Ark story, which Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel have already brought to life in graphic novel form. The other project in question is Exodus, a new look at the life and times of Moses, with Ridley Scott directing a cast that is rumored to include Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby).

Meanwhile, MGM has begun development on Ben-Hur, a reboot of the cinematic (Franchise? Property?) that is based upon Lew Wallace’s all-time best-selling book “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ” (published in 1880). The story was first adapted into a silent black-and-white feature in 1925, some thirty years before director William Wyler made his famous Technicolor 1959 adaptation with Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur: the Jewish prince betrayed by his childhood friend – Messala (Stephen Boyd), commander of the Roman garrison – and forced into slavery, thus beginning the lifelong adult blood feud between the two former brothers-in-spirit.

Deadline is reporting that MGM has found a potential candidate to direct the Ben-Hur reboot in Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian-Kazakh filmmaker behind the visually-spectacular horror/fantasies Night Watch and Day Watch. However, in the U.S., Bekmambetov is better known for the highly-stylized Mark Millar comic book movie Wanted – starring James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie as professional assassins with superhuman killing abilities – and the historical-fantasy/horror novel adaptation Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Earlier this year, we learned that the Ben-Hur reboot spec script was penned by Keith R. Clarke, who previously co-wrote the Oscar-nominated true-story survival tale The Way Back. Clarke’s adaptation of Wallace’s literary source material is said to start back further in time than Wyler’s film – spanning Judah and Messala’s relationship from their time together as children on through to the traitorous act that gave rise to a permanent ideological (and personal) schism between the duo. Moreover, the parallel story of Jesus Christ – as featured in Wallace’s book – is covered in greater detail than in Wyler’s adaptation, according to the early descriptions of Clarke’s script from Deadline‘s sources.

timur bekmambetov angeline jolie wanted Wanted Director Timur Bekmambetov in Talks to Helm the Ben Hur Reboot

Timur Bekmambetov and Angelina Jolie on the set of ‘Wanted’

By the sound of it, Clarke’s Ben-Hur script has the potential to be to Wyler’s film what The Prince of Egypt is to Cecil B. DeMille’s Then Ten Commandements (starring Heston). In other words, the Ben-Hur reboot will examine the relationship between the story’s protagonist and antagonist in greater depth (compared to previous movie adaptations) – by highlighting their original brotherly love – as to give a greater sense of pathos to the proceedings, once the pair evolve into bitter rivals. Moreover, bringing the Jesus Christ subplot to the forefront could strengthen the themes of redemption and forgiveness that are inherent to the narrative.

Bekmambetov as director would ensure that the Ben-Hur reboot offers a visually-striking and grandiose treatment of that story. Problem is, his booming voice as a filmmaker could overwhelm Clarke’s more intimate screenplay – and thus, bring the sort of semi-campy vibes to the proceedings that are present in his other Hollywood features. However, a deal for Bekmambetov to call the shots on Ben-Hur is reported to be far away from guaranteed at this point – meaning, it’s best to not take his involvement for granted yet (regardless of whether you think it’s a good or bad idea).

Are you interested in the Ben-Hur reboot? If so, who would you like to see hold the directorial reins on the project?


The Ben-Hur reboot is still in the early stages of development, so it might be a while before we have a more concrete update on the director situation. As always, we shall keep you posted.

Source: Deadline

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: Ben-Hur
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  1. Ill watch if morgan freman is in it and says “Shoot this motherf”cka”

  2. Yet another sign that Hollywood has run out of ideas. The 1959 version had the distinction of winning the most Oscars – and held that record alone until tied by Titanic almost 40 years later. While the naval armada scene suffers a little bit of special effects failure, the rest of the movie holds up remarkably well. The chariot race in particular – shot entirely live with stuntmen and no visual effects – will never be duplicated.

    Any remake of Ben-Hur will inevitably be compared to the 1959 version, and will fail to measure up.

  3. Was brett rhaner booked ?
    Nothing is freacking sacred anymore
    I love both the silent and the sound version of Ben-hur
    There is no need for a new one , at least not one directed by this freacking Russian hack
    Freacking MGM bro, since they went broke, they’re remaking everything now

  4. The 1959 Ben-Hur is a contender for the greatest film ever made.
    William Wyler is one of the greatest directors ever and Charlton
    Heston’s Ben Her is simply a towering performance for the ages.

    I watched a special screening of Ben-Hur 1959 in original 70mm
    and it was the greatest experience I ever had watching a film.
    And nothing could ever come close to this great masterpiece.

  5. Book was good, original Heston movie excellent. Hope they can do justice to the reboot; I will definitely watch it.

    • Not with this director
      They should get ang lee or at least somebody religious like spieldberg

      • Spielberg is religious???

        • I guess you have never seen close encounters of the third kind

          • Lol umm in what possible way is Close Encounters of the Third Kind, religious???

  6. Noah, Exodus, Ben-Hur…sounds like some decent movies in the pipeline!

    • Are we building to a biblical Justice League? Will Morgan Freeman be Nick Fury? Will bran muffins taste good?

  7. this movie should be left alone, the studio does not need to embarrass itself.

  8. Why do they call everything a reboot now? Ben-Hur is decades old and nobody was asking for or thinking that it needed to be rebooted, rehashed or regurgitated in anyway. This is just another blind grab at a non-trademarked theme that they can throw together to try and sell tickets.

    And since it is 2013 I doubt many people will even identify with the Ben-Hur reference or have any feelings about the story at all, they will just see it as something along the lines of Gladiator, or depending on how they structure the movie 300. Judging by this directors pedigree I can see it looking more like the latter.

  9. please leave this classic alone.

  10. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Now the reboot sickness has befallen epic Biblical stuff and some of the greatest films of all time… No, we don’t need any of that. If they simply can’t produce any fresh material, stop making movies at all… There are COUNTLESS legends, novels, cartoons and even computer games desperatly crying to become movies…World of Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls, The Dark Tower series, Asimov’s Foundation series, Celtic and Northern mythology, Native American and Aboriginal mythology etc. but instead we get one reboot after another, after another, after another…

    IF they have to do Biblical stuff, give us the unfilmed chapters! What about a full-scale CGI take on the APOCALPYSE?

    • Ben Hur has nothing to do with the bible! he’s a fictitious character from a romance who happens to encounter Jesus (which is another fictitious character) on his journey.

      • -1000000

        • Amen, Brother.

      • AWTSU

      • +1000000

    • +1,000,000,000,000,000,000 :D

  11. ….no, No, NO!!!!

  12. Why? Oh well this goes to show that they truly have run out of new ideas. But I digress; this would be filmed version no.3….

  13. Why the heck are people now calling everything s reboot. This isn’t a reboot. A reboot is for a series of films.

    • Because of all the negativitity associated with the word remake.

      • Yesh. Not long before reboot gets the same negativity.

  14. Well it wouldn’t be the first Charlton Heston movie they ruin.

  15. Well I think one thing is pretty certain they’ll make it despite what the internet community thinks. We’ll just have to endure it or ignore it, depending on your personal preference. Perhaps on another note what would most people support?

  16. I dont think it should be called a reboot, i only refer to franchises as reboots, this is a remake. Unless they make Ben Hur II Return of the Jew!

  17. Very very sad.

    As others above have stated, the 1959 version is and will ALWAYS be superior to any attempts to remake it. It was made in a different era when it was ALL live action, zero CGI and it shows in the way the movie was made. You will also never be able to replace Heston, one of Hollywood’s all time greatest actors.

    They got it right with that movie and you should not be messing with it’s legacy. Kind of like trying to repaint the Mona Lisa or re-carve DaVinci’s Michelangelo. Can’t (and shouldn’t) be done.

  18. Why is MGM remaking all his classics ?

  19. How about instead finishing the tv series that was started.

  20. Leave it alone Hollywood. Please.

  21. *Ahem* I believe the correct word you were looking for was…REMAKE. Reboot is something reserved for series like James Bond or Star Trek. Refresh my memory, what long and illustrious series are we “rebooting” here?

  22. Here’s a novel idea, how about he finishes the series he already started?? Night Watch is one of the greatest fantasy films of all time.

  23. What next? Cassablanca? Gone With The Wind? Leave the classics alone.

  24. Is every remake a reboot now? I thought they were two separate things.

  25. For God’s sake indeed , just leave this one alone! It will never be matched and it doesn’t need to done.

    So they want to cover it in even greater detail? Do they know how long the 1959 film was?

    Just stop now and try doing something original please, it’s killing the movie industry.

  26. I’d sooner watch a remake of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” (Which is to say I WILL NOT.)