EXCLUSIVE: I first reported last month that MGM was courting Wanted helmer Timur Bekmambetov to helm Ben-Hur. I have now confirmed that the helmer and the studio have closed their deal for him to direct a new adaptation of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ, which in its time outsold every book but the Bible until it was eclipsed by Gone With The Wind. MGM bought a Ben-Hur spec by Keith Clarke (he scripted the Peter Weir-directed The Way Back). Sean Daniel and Joni Levin are producing, with Clarke and Jason Brown exec producing.
This gives MGM its biblical epic at a time when History’s The Bible was such a miniseries success that Fox is going to theatrically release the truncated movie-length version Son Of God; Paramount and New Regency ready the Darren Aronofsky-directed Noah with Russell Crowe playing the boat builder; and Ridley Scott ready to direct Exodus, with Christian Bale playing Moses and Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro and Aaron Paul.
Bekmambetov is repped by WME, Clarke by Resolution and manager DJ Talbot.