‘Ben-Hur’ Remake Predicted To Fall Short Of The Original At The Box Office

Ben-Hur, the 1959 historical epic action film, established a legacy that became difficult to replicate when it became a hit across the globe and earned several Academy Awards. Now, the classic movie will be remade into a new movie that will be released on August 19.

Both the 1959 classic and the upcoming remake are based on the 1880 novel titled Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ. Ben-Hur follows the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince who is betrayed and falsely accused of treason by Messala, his childhood friend and adoptive brother. Despite being sold into slavery, Ben-Hur strives to seek revenge and ultimately succeeds in achieving his goal by challenging Messala in a thrilling chariot race. Throughout his pursuit, Ben-Hur strengthens his faith by receiving guidance from Jesus Christ.

According to the New Yorker, the 1880 novel was hugely popular and it was adapted into a stage play that ran on Broadway with real horses being featured in the play for the chariot race.

Later, the script was also used to produce an animated movie, a television series, and the wide-screen magnum opus that was directed by William Wyler. The upcoming movie has an impressive star cast with Jack Huston playing Ben-Hur and Toby Kebbell portraying Messala. The movie also features other talented actors like Morgan Freeman, Nazanin Boniadi, Rodrigo Santoro, and Ayelet Zurer.

Additionally, the latest Ben-Hur movie will be based on the updated edition of the novel that is written by Carol Wallace, the great-great-granddaughter of Lew Wallace, the author of the original Ben-Hur novel. Carol derived inspiration by watching the filming of the movie in Rome where the 1959 classic was also filmed. Additionally, Carol edited the description of the landscapes of the Middle East because earlier audiences were not familiar with the Middle East and so the producers had to strictly rely on the novel to recreate the scenes based on the locations in the Middle East. However, modern readers and audiences are very much familiar with the geography of Middle East and hence Carol had to edit the original work to cater to present day audiences. According to Publishers Weekly, Carol spoke about the detailed research that she had undertaken to recreate the masterpiece.

“I spent four months living Ben-Hur as I wrote, and the set looked exactly the way I imagined it. I walked on the very sawdust where they had the chariot race.”

In addition to using modernized language and shortening the length of chapters, Carol has purposefully enlarged the roles played by various women in the novel. The latest version of the book and the upcoming movie will show Ben-Hur’s mother, sister, and his love-interest playing significant roles in the movie. Earlier, these characters appeared as additional characters that stayed firmly in the background.

Even though the new Ben-Hur might be acclaimed critically, it might not be a huge box-office success like the 1959 classic that took the world by storm. According to Cinema Blend, projections reveal that the $100 million movie will pull $14-15 million as an opening weekend take.

Overall, the recent summer movie season hasn’t been good news for movie producers. According to Business Insider, overall ticket sales were down by 10% compared to last summer and blockbusters like The BFG and Alice Through the Looking Glass underperformed in financial terms.

To make matters worse, Ben-Hur will also face stiff competition from movies like War Dogs and Kubo and the Two Strings that are set to be released on the same day. These two movies might give Ben-Hur a tough time at the box office because both of them have the capacity to pull adult audiences away from Ben-Hur. MGM might strive to scale up its marketing efforts by targeting “faith-based” viewers as the content of the movie goes well with its underlying religious theme, and two of Ben-Hur‘s producers of the movie are Christians.

[Photo by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures]