MGM has begun work on a new adaptation of Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.”
There has been at least two versions over the years, William Wyler’s 1959 version starring Charlton Heston remains both the most famous adaptation, and one of the most famous films of all time.
Keith Clarke (“The Way Back”) penned the spec script for this new version which is said to stick closer to Wallace’s original novel. MGM sold the rights to the 1959 film back in the 1980s, but Wallace’s novel is in the public domain.
The new version will shift the focus to the adult blood feud between Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur and Messala, the son of a Roman tax collector. The pair grow up best friends before the Roman Empire took control of Jerusalem.
Messala ultimately betrays his childhood friend and manipulates it so that Judah is sold into slavery. Judah vows revenge on Messala which, like in the films, culminates in the famed chariot races.
One key difference is this script tells the parallel tale of Jesus Christ, with whom Ben-Hur has several encounters, culminating in Christ being sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate.
Sean Daniel and Joni Levin will produce.