Ben Hur – the reasons behind a 100M dollar mistake

By: Lily Xie ’20

Timur Bekmambetov, director of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” once again managed to ruin a perfectly good film. However this time it was at the cost of 100 million dollars and his name of a commercially successful director.

“Ben-Hur” is a well-known and very influential 19th century Christian book that tells the story of a Jewish prince who is falsely accused of a crime and placed in the Roman army as a slave. He gains back his freedom by competing in a chariot race against his betrayer, but everything changes when he encounters Jesus Christ, who teaches him the importance of compassion.

Perhaps it was the 11-time Oscar winner “Ben-Hur” (1959) by William Wyler that set the bar too high for this remake, but that is not an excuse. There are incorrect historical references in Bekmambetov’s version, including the pearly-white teeth of all the main characters. On top of that, there are odd lighting and costume choices, which make the movie seem like it was made in the 1980s. Apart from that, the storyline is also a disaster; a grand lack of details is present, which undoubtedly results in no emotions from the audience.

However, the main reason for financial loss is likely due to the questionable choice of audience. A common fact is that most people from the ages of 15 to 30 frequently watch more action movies in comparison to older audiences. Therefore, picking a story that is almost forgotten by the people who would be most of the movie’s box office is a highly debatable decision, especially for such a high budget production.

In conclusion, the loss of money was due to numerous reasons, including the disastrous storyline, the incorrect historical references and the unclear target audience group. But to be honest, investing $100 million on a storyline of this sort before even filming was not the best idea.

 

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