Papa Vinyard here, now here's a little somethin' for ya...
After NOAH surprised industry analysts and became a clear-cut international hit (currently at $300 million+ worldwide), the expansion of low-budget, star-free Christian drama GOD'S NOT DEAD managed to top Arnie's SABOTAGE in it's first weekend, and HEAVEN IS FOR REAL beat TRANSCENDENCE at the box-office last weekend, it seemed obvious that the Bible-themed flick was on the rise. We still got Ridley Scott's EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS coming up this December, and now, Timur Bekmambetov's BEN-HUR remake just got a huge boost of momentum by landing the involvement of THE BIBLE/SON OF GOD producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, as well as a February 2016 release date.
BEN-HUR started out as an 1880 novel by Lew Wallace, and tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince who is unjustly imprisoned and enslaved when his friend, Massala, betrays him. He vows vengeance against Massala, and rises in the ranks of Roman society by becoming an accomplished chariot racer. His story parallels that of Jesus Christ, who he meets as a young man and ends up following devoutly.
While Bekmambetov's involvement signified one type of movie, but Burnett and Downey's involvement means something else entirely. This will almost certainly NOT be the kind of personal, original take on the ancient tale that NOAH was; while Jesus is not the central character here, expect his story to be told by the letter as it exists in scripture (save for his encounters with Ben-Hur, of course). I'd still expect chariot racing, featured so prominently in William Wyler's 1959 adaptation, to be a big part of the production, and where Bekmambetov's kinetic style will be most apparent, but the "faith thing" is definitely going to be beefed up for churchgoing audiences. They've proven themselves to be a massive demographic, and you can bet your spot in Heaven that they are the bullseye target for this adaptation/remake. Burnett and Downey seem to be able to play that crowd like a fiddle, so match that that with audiences' familiarity with the Heston original, and I'd say this has "hit" written all over it.
Let's just hope it's, you know, good.
BEN-HUR will chariot across screens nationwide on February 26, 2016.