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Ben-Hur has an established legacy in Hollywood for being remade, and the latest retelling is only weeks away from hitting theaters. However, unlike the Charlton Heston-led version, which took the world by storm in 1959 and earned several Academy Awards, it doesn't look like the 2016 remake will be remotely as successful. Right now, the movie is predicted to barely crack $10 million on its opening weekend.
According to tracking from THR, Ben-Hur will only open to between $14-15 million on its opening weekend in three weeks. This would be a low amount for almost any blockbuster, but considering that Ben-Hur cost almost $100 million to produce, it's especially disappointing. The report notes that MGM still has enough time to make a final marketing push for the movie, which includes targeting "faith-based viewers." This makes sense not only because of the story's content, but also because two of the movie's producers, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, are Christians.
Assuming these projections are correct, even if the marketing push does a thorough job, it's hard to imagine it will be good enough to get Ben-Hur to the kind of financial success it was striving towards. The remake's competition that weekend are War Dogs and Kubo and the Two Strings. War Dogs is rated R, but despite that age restriction, it could do reasonably well. Then there's Kubo, a uniquely animated movie with some notable names in its voice cast. If that gets good buzz, then it could lead the charge that weekend, as it's accessible to viewers of all ages. Ben-Hur certainly has the blockbuster feel to it in the previews, but because the budget was so astoundingly large, it will be extremely difficult for the movie to break even and then some. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the movie won't be critically well received, but that's another conversation.
Just like the original 1880 novel and the previous movie adaptations, the Ben-Hur remake will follow the tale of Judah Ben-Hur, played by Jack Huston, a Jewish nobleman who is disgraced and sold into slavery after being betrayed by his childhood friend/adoptive brother, Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. After years of the slave life, he returns to seek revenge against Mescal by challenging him to a chariot race, but in the midst of his new life's mission, he will be changed when he comes across Jesus of Nazareth. The movie's cast also includes Morgan Freeman as Sheik Ilderim, Nazanin Boniadi as Esther, Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus (who, unlike in the 1959 movie, will have a prominent role), Ayelet Zurer as Naomi and many more.
Ben-Hur opens to the masses on August 19, and we'll keep you updated on how it performs in theaters once the numbers are officially crunched.