Ben Hur 2016

Ben Hur 2016, All You Want To Know & Watch Movie

Judah Ben Hur, a Jewish prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army, returns to his homeland after years at sea to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Ben Hur is a 2016 epic historical drama film directed by Timur Bekmambetov and written by Keith Clarke and John Ridley. It is the fifth film adaptation of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace following the 1907 silent short film, the 1925 silent film, the Academy Award-winning 1959 film and the 2003 animated film; it is the third version produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

It has been termed a “re-adaptation”, “reimagining”, and “new interpretation” of the novel, and follows Judah Ben-Hur, a young prince who is falsely accused by his step-brother, an officer of the Roman army, and is sent to slavery, only to escape and seek vengeance.[4][5] The film stars Jack Huston as the titular character, alongside Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer, and Morgan Freeman. Principal photography began on February 2, 2015, in Matera, Italy and lasted about five months, finishing in June 2015.

Ben-Hur premiered on August 9, 2016, in Mexico City and was theatrically released by Paramount Pictures on August 19, 2016 in the United States. It received generally negative reviews and was a box office failure, grossing $94 million worldwide against its $100 million production budget plus a large amount spent on marketing and distribution.


Ben Hur trailer


Ben Hur Reviews

If nothing else, “Ben-Hur,” directed by Timur Bekmambetov from a script by Keith R. Clarke and John Ridley, is a masterpiece of condensation. The celebrated 1959 version of the saga, once the most-Oscar-winning-picture-of-all-time, clocked in at almost four hours. The silent version was about two hours and twenty minutes, no marathon but still longer than average for its time. This movie, on the other hand, gets the job done in pretty much exactly two hours.

The briskness was but one reason I found this quasi-Biblical epic strangely refreshing. This version of the strange novel concocted by Union Army General Lew Wallace in 1880 (a warrior’s apologia for Christianity that surpassed 1852’s previous record holder “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” on the best-seller lists) begins as Judah Ben-Hur (a steely Jack Huston) and his onetime friend Messala (Toby Kebbell) are facing off in a chariot race. Talk about beginning on a high note—the chariot race of the William Wyler-directed 1959 film, starring Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd, is that movie’s climax.

But fear not, the scene is just a preview, and we flashback, after a few expositional points in narration from Morgan Freeman (who, fear not, is also a character in the picture), to Judah Ben-Hur’s noble household in Jerusalem eight years before, and see Judah and his Roman adopted brother Messala (note the slight change in relations) riding horses together carefree, until an accident places Judah in the care of his friend. It’s a bit of a one-set-of-footsteps moment that has a big payoff later on.

Wallace’s novel was subtitled “A Tale of the Christ” and this movie was produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who’ve parlayed Burnett’s success with reality television into a shingle devoted to making movies with pronounced Christian content. Hence, this “Ben-Hur” has more Christ in it than any previous version. And a lot of philosophizing in the dialogue. “You confuse peace with freedom,” one character opines at a certain point; at another the ideal of a “civilized world; progress, prosperity, and stability” is proffered, which sounds like a setup for a takedown of secular humanism.

When first seen, Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro) is carving wood, and overhearing a conversation between Judah and his later-to-be-converted wife Esther (Nazanin Boniadi), he gently pipes up, “Love your enemies.” “Love your enemies? That’s very progressive,” Judah responds. Soon, when he’s stripped of his home and family and enslaved on a galley ship, he will have the opportunity to turn those words over.

The characters all speak in a completely contemporary tone, which shows the influence of—what do you know?—Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ,” which was criticized for (among other things) having the Apostles talk like they’d just hopped off the IRT. This is not particularly bothersome, it turns out. In the net plus department, once the action really gets going, it’s quite good. The sea battle during which Judah makes his escape is a really effective bit of action moviemaking—one of those scenes that compels you to exhale when it’s finally over.

It’s frantic and loud, but not particularly over-the-top, which is unusual for Bekmambetov. Also unusual is the relatively restrained violence—there’s a lot of brutal behavior in the picture but its depiction is relatively restrained, another first for its director, whose work in the likes of “Night Watch,” “Day Watch,” and the abysmal “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” lacked a lot of worthwhile qualities, nuance being one of the bigger ones. I have to credit Burnett and Downey here; clearly they had a commitment to keeping the film as “family-friendly” as possible. T

he chariot race, too, is both wholly watchable—no bones are crunched, and plenty could have been—and coherent. Lead actors Huston and Kebbell both do very credible work, although in Judah Ben-Hur’s earliest incarnation Huston does look a bit like Jimmy Fallon doing Barry Gibb. And at certain of their bro-out moments Huston and Kebbell look like they’d just as likely walk off the set and go check out Sleaford Mods.

Does the movie radically re-arrange both its source material and that material’s most famous adaptation? It sure as hell does. But I doubt that many contemporary viewers consider either of those as holy writ. This is a “Ben-Hur” of and for its time, but also a little better than its time, it turns out. I’m not qualified to say whether it’s an effective delivery system for its Christian message, but I think I can credibly pronounce it a good popcorn movie.


Glenn Kenny  – Roger Ebert

Glenn Kenny was the chief film critic of Premiere magazine for almost half of its existence. He has written for a host of other publications and resides in Brooklyn. Read his answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire here.


Ben Hur Film Credits

Ben-Hur movie poster

Ben Hur (2016)

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and disturbing images,

124 minutes


Jack Huston as Judah Ben-Hur

Toby Kebbell as Messala

Morgan Freeman as Ilderim

Rodrigo Santoro as Jésus Christ

Nazanin Boniadi as Esther

Ayelet Zurer as Naomi

Moisés Arias as Gestas

Sofia Black-D’Elia as Tirzah

Pilou Asbæk as Pontius Pilate

Marwan Kenzari as Druses


  • Timur Bekmambetov

Writer (based on the novel by)

  • Lew Wallace


  • Keith R. Clarke
  • John Ridley


  • Oliver Wood


  • Dody Dorn
  • Richard Francis-Bruce
  • Bob Murawski


  • Marco Beltrami


Ben Hur Plot

Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur and his adopted Roman brother Messala are best friends despite their different origins. After Judah’s mother resists Messala’s interest in her daughter Tirzah, Messala enlists in the Roman army and achieves glory. Ben-Hur eventually marries his slave Esther after Messala leaves. Three years later, Messala returns as a decorated Roman officer. His return coincides with a rising insurrection by the Zealots, Jews opposed to Roman rule.

Ben-Hur begrudgingly treats and shelters a young Zealot named Dismas and attempts to dissuade him from the cause. Messala reunites with Ben-Hur and attempts to convince him to serve as an informant – the new governor Pontius Pilate is coming to Jerusalem and Messala does not want any revolt. Judah claims he will talk to the locals.

During Pilate’s march, Dismas attempts to assassinate Pilate from Judah’s balcony. The Romans storm Ben-Hur’s household and arrest him and his family. Rather than betray Dismas, Ben-Hur takes responsibility for the assassination attempt and his mother and sister are sentenced to crucifixion. While being led to the prison galley, Ben-Hur encounters Jesus, who gives him water. Ben-Hur then endures five years of slavery as a rower aboard a Roman prison galley. During a battle against Greek rebels in the Ionian Sea, Ben-Hur’s galley is boarded, collides with another ship and is destroyed.

Ben-Hur manages to free himself and floats on a ship mast. He is washed ashore and found by Sheik Ilderim, who recognizes him as an escaped slave. Ben-Hur manages to convince Ilderim not to hand him over to the Romans by treating one of Ilderim’s racing horses. After Ben-Hur develops a bond with the four racing horses, a grateful Ilderim then trains Ben-Hur to be a chariot racer.

Ben-Hur and Ilderim travel to Jerusalem to take part in a chariot race. Jesus’ preaching ministry draws the attention of governor Pilate and Messala, who is now the commander of the Roman garrison and a champion chariot racer. While visiting Jerusalem, Ben-Hur encounters Esther, who has become a follower of Jesus and is involved in charity work. Esther tells Ben-Hur that his mother and sister are dead, and despite their reunion, the two are kept emotionally apart due to her new cause, which is contrary to his insistence on seeking revenge against Messala.

Ben-Hur confronts Messala alone in their former home but is forced to flee when Roman soldiers turn up. After the Romans execute twenty Jews in reprisal, Esther completely falls out with Ben-Hur. Just before the race, Ben-Hur encounters a former Roman soldier named Druses, who informs him that his mother Naomi and sister Tirzah are still alive. However, their reunion is soured when Ben-Hur discovers his mother and sister have leprosy, and Ben-Hur is enraged at their condition.

Ilderim convinces Pilate to allow Ben-Hur to compete by proposing a high wager against Messala. Esther tries to convince Messala not to race Ben-Hur, but he is adamant that he will win. On the day of the race, Ben-Hur follows Ilderim’s instructions to hold back from the race until the final laps.

Using dirty tactics, Messala manages to knock out the other charioteers. After Messala attempts to destroy Ben-Hur’s chariot, their chariots become stuck. When Messala tries to kick Ben-Hur from his chariot, his chariot breaks loose and he is trampled. Judah wins, the Jewish spectators begin attacking the Romans and Judah is carried away.

Despite his victory, Ben-Hur is despondent about his family and Messala’s fate. Esther is with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; later she and Ben-Hur witness Jesus bearing the cross. Mirroring his first encounter with Jesus, Ben-Hur tries to offer Jesus water but is beaten by a Roman soldier. Esther and Judah witness Jesus’ death on the cross, Naomi and Tirzah are miraculously healed and Ilderim pays a ransom to set them free.

Ben-Hur seeks out an injured Messala who initially swears to continue hunting Judah. After experiencing Judah’s kindness and forgiveness, Messala relents and they reconcile. Judah and Messala return to his family who all leave Jerusalem with Ilderim.


Ben Hur Box office

Ben-Hur was called by Hollywood observers the summer’s biggest box office bomb, and one of the biggest flops of 2016. The film grossed $26.4 million in the United States and Canada and $67.7 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $94.1 million, against a production budget of $100 million. Due to its underperformance at the box office, executives at rival studios believe the film lost around $100–120 million theatrically. Sources close to the film, however, believe the ultimate losses were likely $60–75 million, noting the film could do well on DVD and other home entertainment platforms.

The losses for MGM were heavier, since they financed 80% of the total production budget, including marketing expenses. As a result, Paramount’s share of the loss was about $13 million. Sources at rival studios put the film’s break even point at about $250 million globally.

The Hollywood Reporter placed Ben-Hur among the biggest summer box office risks of 2016, while Forbes deemed it “the summer’s most predictable miss/catastrophe”. In the United States and Canada, the film was projected to gross to about $15 million in its opening weekend, a disappointing figure considering its $100 million production cost. Due to a negative reception from critics and the influx of heavy competition, the re-opening of schools after summer vacation, and the final weekend of the Rio Summer Olympics, the film’s opening expectations were lowered as its opening approached.

It opened Friday, August 19, 2016, on around 3,300 screens across 3,084 theaters, and earned $4.1 million, including $900,000 it made from Thursday previews at 2,389 theaters. The film went on to gross a low $11.2 million in its opening weekend, even with 3D and IMAX bumps, finishing sixth at the box office and third among new releases, behind Kubo and the Two Strings and War Dogs. The film’s opening weekend demographic was 51% female vs. 49% male, with 94% of the overall audience coming in over the age of 25.

Many box office critics and publications considered the film a box office bomb based on its opening alone. Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations, called it “the bomb of the summer.” Critics pointed out that a lack of star power, its August release date, competition, negative reviews (both from critics and audiences), and a lack of marketing, were potential causes for the film’s underperformance.

According to Variety, the film was unable to expand beyond its core Christian audience. It performed well in areas of the US that are more religious, but did not do as well in more secular regions of the country. As a result of its poor opening, Ben-Hur joined various other films set in ancient times to underperform at the box office, especially recent big-budget movies from major studios – Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), The Legend of Hercules (2014), and Gods of Egypt (2016).[42][127][128]

Ben-Hur depended heavily on foreign markets, especially in Christian offshore territories, such as Latin America, in order to pass its break even point and to recoup its production budget (including marketing expenses).

Outside North America, Ben-Hur grossed $10.7 million in its opening weekend from 23 international markets (18 territories released by Paramount and 5 by MGM). It had No. 1 openings in certain markets like Mexico, the Philippines, India, Peru, Russia, France, and Bulgaria. Its top openings were in Mexico (2.7 million), Russia ($2.3 million), Brazil ($2.2 million), the United Kingdom ($1.5 million), France ($1.2 million), and Spain ($1.1 million).

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the film earned £265,000 in Wednesday and Thursday previews and through Sunday, and had a total opening of £1.05 million from 509 theaters. It debuted in second place behind the animated Sausage Party, after stiff competition from the horror film Don’t Breathe, for the second spot. Minus previews, it earned £783,000 from Friday to Sunday alone, which placed the film at number five on the chart.

It opened in South Korea on September 14, and delivered a robust 5-day opening worth $6.69 million from 707 theaters. It finished in first place among Hollywood films (ahead of The Magnificent Seven), and in second place overall behind local film The Age of Shadows. Although it fell to second place in its sophomore weekend, it managed to fend off newcomers The Magnificent Seven and I Am a Hero, and grossed a total of $8.8 million there.

It opened in China—then the world’s second biggest movie market—on October 10,[138] and delivered a paltry $2.51 million in its opening weekend. However, this is reflective of a seven days total as it opened on a Monday. Based on Friday to Sunday alone, the total was just $460,000, managing to debut at number ten.

In terms of total earnings, South Korea ($8.8 million), Mexico ($6 million), and Brazil ($5.5 million) were its top markets. The film’s opening date in its final market, Japan, was February 8, 2017.


Ben Hur Critical Reception

Ben-Hur received generally negative reviews from critics, most of which considered the film an unnecessary remake in comparison to the classic 1959 film. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 25% based on 190 reviews with an average rating of 4.56/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “How do you fight an idea? By filming a remake that has too few of its own, and tries to cover it up with choppy editing and CGI.

“On Metacritic, the film has a score of 38 out of 100 based on 34 critics, indicating “generally unfavorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A−” on an A+ to F scale.

The A.V. Club’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, giving one of the few positive-leaning reviews, wrote: “At first, the new adaptation of Lew Wallace’s New Testament soap opera seems impersonal, as dusty and ornamented as any movie in which robed Jews and Romans argue about gods and kings in accents of vaguely British origin [,]” but as it progresses, “Ben-Hur announces itself as the sort of elemental re-imagining of the source material that no one in their right mind would ever expect it to be.”

IGN’s Scott Collura gave the film 5.8/10, writing: “Ben-Hur is an adequate introduction to the classic tale of revenge and forgiveness, but it’s an uneven one. Toby Kebbell’s antagonist character frequently outweighs the appeal of Jack Huston’s hero, the more religious elements of the story don’t jell very well with the action set pieces, and much of the cast are left behind by their own movie. But still, there’s no denying the power of Ben-Hur’s final redemption. It’s just not a very smooth ride getting there.”

The New York Times’ Stephen Holden wrote, “Overseen by a director not known for his human touch and lacking a name star, except for Mr. Freeman, Ben-Hur feels like a film made on the cheap, although it looks costly.”

Richard Roeper gave the film two stars out of four, writing: “Ben-Hur struggles to find an identity and never really gets there. The well-intentioned efforts to achieve moving, faith-based awakenings are undercut by the casually violent, PG-13 action sequences.”The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy described the film’s chariot race scene as being “heavily digitized and over-edited”, and called it the worst scene of the film he described as “Misguided, diminished and dismally done in every way”.

Rolling Stone labeled the film “A Remake Disaster of Biblical Proportions.”[149] Empire summarized it as “passable for the most part, but laughably inept in places.”

Sister Rose Pacatte wrote a positive review for the National Catholic Reporter, objecting only to the anachronistic costumes worn by Jewish women in the film.


Ben Hur Accolades

Award Category Subject Result
EDA Special Mention Award Sequel or Remake That Shouldn’t Have Been Made Won
Yoga Award Worst Remake Timur Bekmambetov Won

Ben Hur pictures

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Ben Hur Movie Info

Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) loses everything after his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), now an officer in the Roman army, returns to Jerusalem and accuses the young prince of treason. Stripped of his title and separated from his wife (Nazanin Boniadi) and family, Ben-Hur must endure years of slavery on a galley at sea. When fate brings the estranged brothers to an epic and deadly chariot race, Ben-Hur finally gets the chance to exact vengeance on the man who destroyed his life.

  • Rating: PG-13 (Sequences of Violence|Disturbing Images)
  • Genre: Adventure, Action, History, Drama
  • Original Language: English
  • Director: Timur Bekmambetov
  • Producer: Sean Daniel, Duncan Henderson, Joni Levin
  • Writer: Keith Clarke, John Ridley
  • Release Date (Theaters):   Wide
  • Release Date (Streaming): 
  • Box Office (Gross USA): $26.4M
  • Runtime: 
  • Distributor: Paramount Pictures
  • Production Co: Paramount Pictures, Bazalevs, Sean Daniel Company, Lightworkers Media, Sony Classical
  • Aspect Ratio: Scope (2.35:1)


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Author: Mohammed A Bazzoun

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