The weekend before last, a seemingly under-the-radar film called I Can Only Imagine wound up being a surprise box office hit. It was the first in a string of faith-based movies set to roll out in the weeks leading up to Easter. Paul, Apostle of Christ, a biblical drama starring Jim Caviezel, opened last Friday, and a second sequel to the 2014 hit God’s Not Dead sees release this week.
Caviezel, of course, played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, and that movie is a prime example of how religious films are often underestimated when it comes to commercial success. Made on modest budgets, these movies have built-in support from an underserved niche of filmgoers who find their beliefs at odds with the pool of available viewing content. Local churches embrace the films in grass-roots campaigns, and it doesn’t hurt if they have ties to a bestselling Christian music single or self-help book. This is how I Can Only Imagine was able to win the weekend over Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, a movie that deliberately downplayed the Christian elements of its source material.
By now, there are enough titles out there that religious films have gotten to be a genre in and of themselves. Yet they almost always seem to be under a quality curse, much like video game movies. Those that aren’t outright bad tend to be mediocre. Why are so many faith-based movies subpar? And what movies actually get this right?
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Summer 2016 has seen a fair share of box office disappointments and bombs, but the biggest loser is Timur Bekmambetov‘s remake of Ben-Hur which will see a projected loss of over $120 million. Learn more about the biggest money losers of this summer, after the jump.
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George Lucas has been known to take inspiration for his movies from classic films, TV shows, comics and more. The original Star Wars in 1977 took cues from sci-fi serials like Flash Gordon and masterpieces such as Metropolis. Other influences include the films of Akira Kurosawa and much more, and this is a practice that George Lucas brought with him when he made the Star Wars prequels.
Many cinephiles know that the podracing sequence from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was inspired by the famous chariot race in Ben-Hur. Just to be clear, we’re talking about the classic 1959 film not the remake that just bombed at the box office this past weekend. There’s even one sequence that is mimicked almost shot-for-shot in The Phantom Menace. Now you can see how these sequences compare thanks to a video comparison showing all the similarities.
See The Phantom Menace vs Ben-Hur comparison video after the jump. Read More »
Posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 by Angie Han
Some of Toby Kebbell‘s most prominent roles are the ones where he’s hidden behind CG and mo-cap magic: Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Dr. Doom in Fantastic Four, and most recently Durotan in Warcraft. But he’ll show his face for real later this summer in Timur Bekmambetov‘s re-adaptation of Ben-Hur, where he plays the duplicitous Messala to Jack Huston‘s Judah Ben-Hur.
If you’ve seen the William Wyler classic, you already know the story: Ben-Hur is a Jewish prince who’s forced into slavery thanks to the betrayal of his best friend, Roman officer Messala. Years later, Ben-Hur returns seeking revenge via chariot race. A new Ben-Hur trailer plays up the tragedy of Ben-Hur’s ordeal, while a new Ben-Hur featurette reveals the practical stunt work from the climactic chariot race sequence. Watch ’em both below. Read More »
We’re back in Las Vegas at CinemaCon, the annual gathering of movie theater exhibitors. As you probably know by now, theater owners from around the nation gather to, among other things, watch presentations from all of the major movie studios previewing their film slates for the upcoming year and beyond. The opening night presentation was Paramount Pictures, which came to Vegas to promote Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Ben-Hur, the first teaser trailer for the Ring franchise film Rings, the first footage from Tom Cruise’s sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Robert Zemeckis’ spy thriller Allied, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, and a very early look at Baywatch starring The Rock and Zac Efron.
But the two biggest surprises involved Prisoners/Sicario/Blade Runner 2 filmmaker Denis Villeneuve adaptation of Story Of Your Life and the shocking lack of any Star Trek Beyond preview despite having Simon Pegg and JJ Abrams in town and on stage for an award celebration. The new Villeneuve film seems like a smart science fiction film, think Contact meets Close Encounters of a Third Kind. Hit the jump to watch a video blog reaction talking about all the clips shown at the presentation.
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The chariot race sequence in William Wyler‘s Ben-Hur took a year to plan. The massive sequence, which was shot in five weeks, involved 7,000 extras and a set that cost $1 million to build. All that hard work paid off, because that sequence remains just as thrilling today as it probably was back in 1959.
It’s inevitable the new adaptation of Ben-Hur will face comparisons to Wyler’s film, especially in regards to how the new chariot race holds up to the 1959 film’s classic set piece. Below, director Timur Bekmambetov tells us about the planning and work that went into shooting the sequence.
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“Action star” probably isn’t the first thing you think of when Judah Ben-Hur’s name comes to mind. He doesn’t believe in killing. Compassion is Ben-Hur’s true weapon, and that’s why he’s such a heroic character, especially in William Wyler‘s 1959 film.
A few weeks ago we got our first look at the upcoming reimagining of the film, which is directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted). And although the trailer has plenty of excitement, according to the director, this version will not turn Judah Ben-Hur into a more modern action hero.
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Posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 by Angie Han
Jack Huston kicked off 2016 as one of the better parts of the fairly terrible Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, stealing scene after scene from ostensible male lead Sam Riley. Now his next big release of 2016 puts him front and center, in the iconic role of Judah Ben-Hur.
The main beats of Timur Bekmambetov‘s Ben-Hur should seem familiar to anyone who’s seen the earlier film. Huston’s Ben-Hur is a Jewish prince who’s betrayed by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell) and forced into slavery. He survives and returns to seek his revenge in the arena. Morgan Freeman plays the man who teaches Ben-Hur all about chariot racing. Nazanin Boniadi, Pilou Asbaek, and Rodrigo Santoro also star. Read More »
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Jack Huston has been on a star on the rise for the past few years now. After Boardwalk Empire and his strong supporting performances in Not Fade Away and Kill Your Darlings, he seemed destined to one day headline a big studio picture. A year and a half ago the actor landed the lead role in Timur Bekmambetov‘s remake of Ben-Hur, and this could be his big break.
With Bekmambetov’s film opening this summer, we now have our first look at Ben-Hur.
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Nowadays, with the advent of realistic visual effects, most big movie sets are actually just digital extensions of much smaller practical sets and locations. However, in the earliest days of cinema, some of the biggest epics actually had to physically create massive sets. And if you’ve ever wondered just how big some of the most massive sets in cinema’s history have been, we have an infographic that takes a look at some of the biggest movie sets that we’ve ever seen on the big screen. Check out the list below! Read More »