‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ Director to Remake ‘Ben-Hur’

Published 11 months ago by

Stephen Boyd Charlton Heston in Ben hur Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Director to Remake Ben Hur

It’s far too early to say whether or not the old-fashioned big-budget Bible epic will mount a convincing comeback, but 2014 will see the release of two high-profile, Bible-themed projects. Director and co-writer Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is a large-scale version of the Noah’s Ark story, and Ridley Scott’s Exodus is a new take on the tale of Moses.

We first heard about MGM’s attempt to remake the often-filmed Ben-Hur nearly a year ago. The main candidate for director of the new remake, based on the best-selling 1880 novel by Lew Wallace (originally titled Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ), was said to be Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter director Timur Bekmambetov.

Now, a report from Deadline confirms (albeit unofficially) that Bekmambetov is indeed helming Ben-Hur.

Supposedly the new adaptation, a spec script by Keith R. Clarke (co-writer of director Peter Weir’s World War II-era survival tale The Way Back), will be closer to the source material than previous versions. The most famous of these is the 1959 adaptation starring Charlton Heston from director William Wyler, which won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

That film focused on the relationship between Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur (Heston) and his Roman friend from childhood, Messala (Stephen Boyd), with the story of Jesus Christ in the background (the two overlap at various points).

timur bekmambetov Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Director to Remake Ben Hur

Director Timur Bekmambetov

Bekmambetov is known for his bombastic visual style…and razor-thin characterizations. Clarke’s approach is said to track the beginnings of Ben-Hur and Messala’s relationship, and will focus less on the bitter rivalry that grew between them in later years and more on the parallel story of Jesus Christ. Apparently, Ben-Hur will have several encounters with the religious figure and eventually become a believer. The climax of the film will be the crucifixion.

The famous Heston film is visually extravagant, with the Jesus subplot largely shoe-horned in. That film’s centerpiece is the epic chariot race between Ben-Hur and Messala, which took a year to complete.

With Exodus and Noah about to bring the biblical epic back into style, attaching a director known mainly for his hyper-kinetic visuals (and not his sensitive, three-dimensional rendering of iconic characters) might be considered more of a cynical cash-grab than an artistically relevant remake of an archaically-structured narrative more than 130 years old.

abraham lincoln vampire hunter full trailer Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Director to Remake Ben Hur

Still, if Ridley Scott and Darren Aronofsky’s tentpole Bible projects can convince mainstream audiences that cinematic Sunday School stories are worth their ten bucks (and if the $611 million total box office take of The Passion of the Christ is any evidence, they just might), expect hastily-packaged Bible retreads to saturate the market.

For some gloriously junky ’60s Hollywood excess, check out the trailer for the 1959 version of Ben-Hur:

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There’s currently no release date for the remake of Ben-Hur, but stay tuned to Screen Rant for more information as it becomes available.

Source: Deadline

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33 Comments

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  1. I don’t mind this news and hope that having a definite vision for the plot will help it because as much as I’ve tried to watch the classics like Ben-Hur and Spartacus, the fact that they seemingly run for 5 hours with a lot of nothing happening in between the big set pieces and important character moments prevented me from even getting halfway through.

    It’s weird because I enjoy long movies as long as I’m not checking the time constantly but with the 50s epics, that’s what I end up doing a lot of the time. That’s the main reason I also have only seen The Godfather twice and don’t remember much of anything that happened in it other than the car bomb and Vito collapsing amongst his plants.

    Long story short, I’m willing to give this new take a chance.

    • @Dazz

      Really? Did you just say that Ben Hur had nothing happening between the set pieces? Do you know what was happening? The plot was happening. I mean, would you rather it just be a bunch of action scenes with no apparent reason why they’re happening or how it lead up to it??? Ong Bak 2 would be right up your alley, lol. If anything, they are claiming the new versions would be more faithful to the source material, which actually would probably mean there will be more “nothing” happening between the set pieces…

      • Ken J, I couldn’t agree more.
        It seems a really well thought engaging plot goes by the wayside nowadays in place of CGI & special effects. Hollywood is programming, indirectly, the youth of America with big budget action effects & heroes instead of plot quality.
        The idea of Hollywood doing that would make a good conspiracy plot in itself.

    • I guess wanted and Abraham Lincoln vampire hunter are more of your kind of movies…soon enough Ben hur will be your kind of movies

      • Wanted is awesome…

  2. Why are they doing this, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

  3. Well it’s official, I’m moving across the galaxy. Anyone want to join me?

    • Watch out! The Milky Way is due for a remake in 2020.

  4. I was shocked to hear about the MGM plan (“conspiracy”) to remake Ben-Hur. Though, it took me a while, in the end, I was alright with it. Now to throw this in my face…how dare they?

    I have nothing against Timur, but this is not his type of movie. I feel someone more accomplished must helm this one like Steven Spielberg or Ang Lee.

    • Ang lee would direct the s*** out of it

    • Please no Ang Lee, he would over-dramatize EVERYTHING… For a long movie like Ben Hur, even fans like you would really get tired of it half way through. I get tired of the whole Asian over-dramatize everything stuff from the beginning because I’m so sick of it from watching Asian movies…

  5. I hope this remake bombs so hard that it bankrupts MGM…again

    @dazz
    I’m sorry that the classic doesn’t have enough slow motion, gory and sex scenes to keep you awake

  6. Remake Ben Hur? Sorry, they just don’t make movies that good anymore. Good luck with that

  7. Hollywood feels the need to reboot, remake, or sequel everything out there. Sure (and thank God) Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, and Citizen Kane have been saved. Did we need all those sequels to Wizard of Oz? No. Did we need The Godfather Part III? No. Did we ask for a Psycho remake? No. Disturbia, a remake of Rear Window? No. A prequel Star Wars trilogy? No. The list goes on and on. Can certain things just be left sacred. Hollywood is all about making money nowadays. I could care less if Avatar and Titanic are the top earners (even tho that’s due to inflation and really, Gone with the Wind is still the top earner). That does not matter to me. The Oscars and those other awards are BS really. I could care less about what critics say. It’s all about someone’s perceptions on things. That being said, some things deserve to be left alone. Hollywood should get on some properties that they need to, such as:
    -Pirates of the Caribbean reboot. The first 2 were above average and the 3rd was mediocre and the 4th stunk. The series never reached the potential it should’ve and instead of this 5th movie it should be rebooted. Johnny Depp should return as Jack Sparrow, with someone directing that actually can bring some freshness from him. Bill Nighy should return as Davy Jones and the character should be someone feared but more of a background sort of character. Gary Oldman should be a rival pirate and Anne Hathaway should be a mermaid. Take more inspiration from that absolutely classic ride as well as some Errol Flynn movies and the Tyrone Power 1942 Black Swan film.
    -Haunted Mansion remake. The opening was good. But why cast Eddie Murphy in this movie? Something that could have been good became a train wreck. I would take a darker tone. Put Peter Jackson as director and look to the ride for more inspiration. Bring in Tom Hardy as a villager in the 1800s who stumbles upon the mansion. Have Sean Bean as Mr. Gracy. Have Scarlett Johansson as the corpse bride. Guillermo del Toro has been reportedly doing this but it’s taken such a long time I just don’t know. Same can be said for that Jon Favreau Magic Kingdom movie.
    -National Treasure remake. Sure, the first film was above average. The second was a rehash. They both could’ve been much better. Nicholas Cage is terrible. Bring in Steven Spielberg as the director. Cast Matt Damon in Cage’s role, Natalie Portman in Diane Kruger’s, Adam Sandler in Justin Bartha’s, Robert De Niro in Jon Voight’s, and have Sean Bean return.
    -The Towering Inferno remake. Yes, this movie was alright however not as good as it should’ve been with Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and William Holden leading the cast. I would’ve expected a classic. Bring in Russell Crowe and Gerard Butler, among others and do this again.
    -Ocean’s Eleven remake. The 1960 version had the same problem Grown Ups had. Talented people in a movie that should’ve done better. The 2001 version’s script was fantastic. However, the cast was a little too overcrowded and Don Cheadle’s cockney accent and performance just don’t work. I’d cut the cast down a bit. Bring in someone who can direct ensemble casts. David O. Russell. There we go. Denzel Washington, Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Robert Downey Jr., Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Adam Sandler, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brooklyn Decker, Gerard Butler.
    These are just a few movies that deserve more attention than rehashes of classics.

    • Did you say “Adam Sandler” should have been in a movie, as a positive substitute for someone else? Unless he was involved in set security, or maybe fetching coffee for the actors. Then maybe, but only if he agreed to do it for free

    • Oceans 11 – the original – was perfect. If you don’t understand that, you will never understand the Rat Pack. All the sequels and all the derivatives have NEVER captured the spirit that made the original “Oceans” the fun film it really was.

    • I agree with everything Benny said here, actually. And actually, I’m an Adam Sandler fan. No, he’s not Denzel or any of those guys but he’s still hilarious and has talent. Jack and Jill, That’s my Boy, and Little Nicky stunk bad no doubt however the rest of his films are fine. None are great but still you didn’t expect that. They’re decent entertainment. You go in and laugh. That’s my opinion and my preferences (obviously not the same as yours). And also, I’m a huge Golden Age of movies guy and I’ll admit the original Ocean’s was flawed a bit. It was good, but not good enough. The 2001 version was good but a bit overcrowded, like Benny stated

  8. Sins against the Holy Spirit are not forgiven.

    • Gravatar Test

      • @Robert Palmer

        His urge to use your name was… simply irresistible…

        • Thanks Kevin :D It was actually me making a typo error of my email.
          This was my first post from an iPad (my sister’s) and I never used one before.

        • Make that Ken, not Kevin, of course.

  9. How do you remake the first film to set the record for number of Academys one in one night? There is no way to improve that and should not be attempted.

  10. Watching the trailer, and the scale of the sets, extras, stunts (especially the chariot race).. I mean, nothing like that is made these days. Its all done from behind a screen.

    Compare that chariot race to the horse/mountain scene from Lincoln Vamp hunter. They are worlds apart in quality, we are truly going backwards with regard to production values. Trying to remake a classic like this is setting oneself for a fall/bomb.

  11. You can’t top things like The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur (both with Heston), no matter who you are. However, having said that, I will certainly welcome an honest effort at a good remake (stress honest and good) of Noah, Ben-Hur, and Moses, if done respectfully and right. I hope they are well-written and acted. And that we don’t see some writer or director play “Fantasy Football” with the characters, making them dance, cry, fornicate, change their ethnic background from the source material, or their gender or proclivity, or crack snarky jokes. Let’s just once have some good civilized attempts at making a classic worthy of an Academy Award!

  12. I don’t mind this news and hope that having a definite vision for the plot will help it because as much as I’ve tried to watch the classics like Ben-Hur and Spartacus, the fact that they seemingly run for 5 hours with a lot of nothing happening in between the big set pieces and important character moments prevented me from even getting halfway through.

    • “with a lot of nothing happening in between the big set pieces and important character moments prevented me from even getting halfway through.”

      You have been weaned on too many summer blockbusters to appreciate plot and dialogue like it used to be done. Attention deficiency is a common malaise these days.

  13. My first reaction was reject yet another pathetic attempt at a remake – that of a ultimate classic I might add.

    But I’ve started warming to the idea that a modern day remake of Ben Hur could do much to refresh the movie in a way which heightens the spectacular and refocuses the story.

    All I ask is that they treat the material with the respect it deserves and not compromise to ridiculous plot devices that has no place in this story.

  14. With most of the industrialized world becoming increasingly secular and Israeli\Jewish history coming under scrutiny from many areas, I am not quite sure why anyone would invest in big-budget “Biblical”, style films.

    “Noah’s Ark” is but a fantasy, Uris’ “Exodus” has turned out to be nothing more than propagandist nonsense, historically speaking, and “Ben Hur” cannot be re-made successfully to any degree unless Ridley Scott is directing it. Nonetheless, the Story of Christ has also lost its shine as so little, if any, historical evidence has been demonstrated that such a person, divine or not, ever walked on planet Earth.

    These are all serious issues that an evolving society that has both thrown away much of its traditional foundations along with the adoption of nonsensical technologies for a basis of daily life both pose for such remakes that can only be successful when done within the context of the times.

    That being said, if Ridley Scott was to re-make “Ben Hur”, I would be very interested in seeing it… Unfortunately, the studio appears to have picked Bekmambetov, who appears to be nothing more than an incarnation of the vapid cultural altercations that the current youth generation has created for all of us… along with industries that cater to them… such as Hollywood…

    • “Nonetheless, the Story of Christ has also lost its shine as so little, if any, historical evidence has been demonstrated that such a person, divine or not, ever walked on planet Earth.”

      >> Thank you for being the most clueless person who ever walked on planet Earth.

      • Oh, here we go…

        Would you like to present some historical evidence that has absolutely nothing to do with Church documentation or texts…

        If you can, then I will retract my statement…

  15. A lot of movies could or should be remade. This is not one of them.

  16. Im probably one of the ‘older’ contibutors here in the comment section so Im a bit more biased towards ‘older Hollywood’. You can see what I mean by me defending the new Arnold & Sly’s action movie in comments for that topic. Chuck Heston is another 1 actor on my hall of fame list. He had a good list of movies under his belt ( 10 Commandments,Ben Hur, PLanet of the Apes,Soylent Green) and is forgoten about by the younger generation as were his movies.

    What I’m geting at is the younger movie goers now are being force fed CGI & special effects over plot or 80′s style action. So when i read a remake of Ben Hur was being greenlit I just shook my head. Then when I saw the director to Abraham Lincoln,Vampire Hunter was in lines to film it, I said what a F’n shame. Really? A classic being remade never ,in my eyes seems to work out, and by a director of a failed CGI movie?
    I would feel better if it was Frank Darabont,Sam Mendes,Ang Lee or even James Magold.

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