Can you believe it? Nobody in 2016 cares about a new Ben-Hur.
The $100 million epic is tracking for a dreary $14-$15 million opening at the box office over the August 19-21 weekend, according to The Hollywood Reporter — not a great start for a film that cost nearly $100 million to make. Though THR notes that MGM and Paramount still have “three weeks to make their final marketing push, including targeting faith-based moviegoers,” right now the Timur Bekmambetov-directed film is shaping up to be a pretty disappointing investment. A lot of the film's success or failure will also likely depend on overseas grosses.
Starring Jack Huston as the title character along with Toby Kebbell, Morgan Freeman, Nazanin Boniada, and Rodrigo Santoro, this is the third adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel, the most famous being the 1959 version starring Charlton Heston that won a record 11 Oscars. The plot centers on a Jewish prince (Huston) who goes on a mission of revenge after being betrayed by his adopted brother Messala (Kebbell). The new version opens opposite Laika's animated Kubo and the Two Strings and the Jonah Hill-Miles Teller comedy War Dogs.
If Ben-Hur indeed lives down to analysts' poor expectations, it will be the second American flop in a row for Bekmambetov, whose last English-language film was 2012's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.