Ben Hur Movie Remake Signs Up Mark Burnett and Roma Downey: Paramount Learned From Noah Aronofsky Mistake, Says Christian Group

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey at "The Bible Experience" opening night gala on March 19, 2013 in New York. |

Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett are signed on to MGM-Paramount's "Ben-Hur" as producers this week.

The husband-and-wife team are well known for recent projects including the "Bible" series as well as the film "Son of God." Downey, who starred on "Touched By An Angel" during the 1990s, is executive producing; while Burnett is producing, along with Sean Daniel and Joni Levin, according to Variety.

"What an honor it will be to help bring this epic film back to the big screen," said Downey and Burnett.

"Ben-Hur" will be an adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ." MGM and Paramount are co-producing the film, and their decision to sign on Downey and Burnett has been applauded by the Faith Driven Consumer. The organization, which offers faith-friendly movie reviews, offered a statement on the decision on Friday, April 25.

"If Faith Driven Consumers were a core target for NOAH, Darren Aronofsky was the wrong choice," said FDC founder Chris Stone, referring to Paramount's recent Russell Crowe-starred film. "Having left untold millions on the table with that film, Paramount appears to have learned from its mistakes and to be taking a completely new approach with the upcoming remake of BEN HUR by signing producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey."

Gary Barber of MGM studios is also "thrilled" to welcome Downey and Burnett to the project.

"Their unrivaled passion, creativity and success in the faith based content space will be a huge asset to the film and we look forward to working together," he added, according to Variety.

"Ben-Hur" was first adapted to the big screen in 1925 and met great success. Then, in 1959, another version premiered starring Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins and Hugh Griffith. It won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture.

"The film returns to the heart of Lew Wallace's epic novel focusing on the nature of faith," MGM and Paramount said in a statement explaining the latest "Ben-Hur" reboot.

"The story follows a falsely accused nobleman who survives years of slavery to take vengeance on his best friend who betrayed him. Both must come to choose between retribution or forgiveness," the studios' statement added.

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