Based on the best-selling American novel by Lew Wallace first published in 1880, director Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) is hoping to turn his feature film adaptation of Ben-Hur into a blockbuster success at the box office in a few weeks time. With plenty of full length trailers and exclusive looks at the long-running theatrical property's iconic chariot race sequence already released, the new movie starring Jack Huston (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) in the title role is primed to bring the Christian allegory back into the mainstream in a big way.
No matter how successful the classic film of 1959 starring Charlton Heston might be, the new Ben-Hur doesn't look like it holds much promise in terms of differentiating itself in any fundamental way from the films that directly precede it. To make matters worse, the latest box office projections for Bekmambetov's latest theatrical output don't look promising.
According to THR, Ben-Hur is currently on track to bring in a less than desirable $14-15 million over the course of its opening weekend at the box office for its chief distributors Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Paramount Pictures. Despite being made on a budget of approximately $100 million, Bekmambetov and the studios may have to begin preparing for a major loss when his new movie reaches general audiences this August, which is certainly not what they were expecting.
Huston and co-stars Morgan Freeman (Now You See Me 2), Toby Kebbell (Warcraft), and Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland) may not be able to save what appears to be an already sinking ship, as Ben-Hur may soon prove to be another misguided reboot thoughtlessly executed on the behalf of the current Hollywood studio system. Bekmambetov might be an experienced filmmaker within the industry, but it would appear that his latest production isn't going to see much in the way of financial returns by way of ticket sales.
Given the fairly outdated nature of the film's source narrative, perhaps it should come as no surprise that many general moviegoers aren't predicted to go to the theater to see another movie based on a Christian morality narrative. Then again, maybe there are still enough film buffs out there who hold the film of 1959 in high enough regard that they'll give the new Ben-Hur a chance, and Huston's latest starring turn will manage to captivate its own moderately sized audience of thoroughly invested theatergoers.
Ben-Hur will see theatrical release in the U.S. on August 19, 2016.