MGM’s remake of Ben-Hur has long promised to have an even greater focus than the 1959 original on the parallel story of Jesus, whose journey to the cross provides the thrilling chariot race for mankind’s soul—not to mention the irresistible marketing angle for Hollywood’s current thirst for bible movies. And to that end it’s now added producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, whose involvement with History’s The Bible (and its greatest-hits comp movie Son Of God) has made their names a sort of recognizable brand to faith-driven consumers—like Tyler Perry, were he more explicitly Jesus-y.
With Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter director Timur Bekmambetov already bringing his experience with revisionist history tales of the undead, and 12 Years A Slave screenwriter John Ridley contributing the necessary human suffering, it’s not entirely clear what Burnett and Downey will bring to the project that ‘s already well underway. But in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, the couple called Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur novel “one of the most important Christian works of fiction ever writte,” and declared the film “the most anticipated movie release of 2016,” so it would appear they’ll mostly be responsible for the evangelizing.
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