MGM and Paramount Pictures announced today that production is officially underway on the upcoming Ben-Hur remake. Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter helmer Timur Bekmambetov is in the director’s chair for the big-budget redo, with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey—the folks behind the very popular The Bible miniseries—onboard to produce and executive produce, respectively.
The film has a screenplay by Keith Clarke (The Way Back) and John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), and is returning to the source material to create a new take on the story, which was previously brought to life in William Wyler’s 1959 epic. The official logline for Bekmambetov’s film is as follows:
The film returns to the heart of Lew Wallace’s epic novel focusing on the nature of faith. 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 production will call Italy home, as filming will be taking place in Rome and Matera. Boardwalk Empire alum Jack Huston leads the cast as Judah Ben-Hur, with Morgan Freeman playing Ilderim, Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Koba) set as Messala, and Nazanin Boniadi onboard as Esther.
The cast also has Rodrigo Santoro (300: Rise of the Empire) playing Jesus Christ and Pilou Asbaek (Lucy) as Pontius Pilate, with Sofia Black D’Elia, Ayelet Zurer, and Moises Arias also starring.
Oliver Wood (The Bourne Identity) is serving as the director of photography, Naomi Shohan (American Hustle) as production designer, and Varvava Avdyusko (Wanted) as costume designer. Ben-Hur will be released in theaters on February 26, 2016.