Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) will direct the film. The screenplay, originally written by Keith R. Clarke (The Way Back), with revisions by Academy Award-winner John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), is based on Lew Wallace's 1880 epic novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ. Downey (The Bible) and John Ridley will serve as executive producers along with Keith R. Clarke and Jason F. Brown.
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.
Here's what MGM CEO Gary Barber had to say in a statement.
Rob Moore, Vice Chairman Paramount Pictures, also issued a statement.
Roma Downey and Mark Burnett had this to say in a joint statement.
MGM will handle production with Jonathan Glickman, President, Motion Picture Group and Matt Dines, Vice President, Production, overseeing the project on behalf of the studio. The film will be distributed worldwide by Paramount Pictures, with select international territories as well as all television distribution to be handled by MGM.
Here's what Jonathan Glickman had to say in his statement.
Together Downey and Burnett were executive producers of The Bible series, which became the number one cable show for The History Channel of 2013. In February 2014, 20th Century Fox released the feature film version Son of God. The project entailed extensive outreach to the faith communities and consultation with biblical experts, to strong effect. ADL National Director Abraham Foxman declared "Son of God is the most sensitive depiction of the story of Jesus that I have ever seen or probably will ever see." Downey and Burnett are currently producing A.D. a new drama series for NBC and The Dovekeepers a four-hour miniseries on the story of Masada for CBS, both set to air in 2015.
MGM and Paramount are currently partnered on the upcoming Hercules, releasing July 25 as well as the sequel to Hot Tub Time Machine, releasing Christmas day. The studios previously teamed up on the release of G.I. Joe Retaliation and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.