Ben Hur may be a champion of biblical times, but even his chariot couldn't outrun the terrible estimates for the box office disaster that awaited his third coming. With a projected $12 million gross against a $100 million production budget, the film even managed to dash those expectations with a $11.2 million showing as an end result. With such horrific figures for is first weekend, it looks like Paramount and MGM will be losing $100 million over what's now the latest flop of 2016.
Of course, the projected loss on Timur Bekmambetov's most recent directorial effort varies depending on who you talk to. While Variety reported the $100 million figure as being the general opinion, studio representatives felt that $60 - $75 million was more accurate. The reason being that Ben Hur may find some traction on the home video market, particularly with faith based audiences and church groups who may not have been able to make it to the movies to see the film last weekend. With $30 million projected as the film's final domestic total, that would require at least another $30 to $45 million to be brought in through rentals and sales to soften the blow.
Even with the ever growing international market coming to the aid of other films that have struggled domestically, this new spin on an old classic has only mustered $10.7 million in the first weekend. The fall of Ben Hur is a pretty easy story to follow, with the film finding itself on the short end of the stick when it came to the promotional department, as the film seemed to go into production without much fanfare. Not only did this lead to Jack Huston's starring turn as Judah Ben Hur going vastly unnoticed by moviegoers, it pretty much doomed the film to obscurity. See if you can remember seeing trailers like the one we've included below in a theater at any point during this year.
Perhaps the greatest sin Paramount and MGM made when it came to Ben Hur was to spend $100 million on the production, plus "tens of millions" on a lackluster marketing campaign, in order to bring the film to life. If the studio had been a little more modest with their budget, we may have been talking about Ben Hur, the latest faith-based blockbuster in theaters. Unfortunately, that's not the universe we're living in, and both Paramount and MGM are going to have to deal with the financial fallout of this latest disaster, on top of already perilous dealings in their home studios.
If you're a fan of Ben Hur, and have a matinee to spare, the film is in theaters now, awaiting your curiosity.