MGM had a great fourth quarter thanks to Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and they hope to put the extra cash to good use by making a new Ben-Hur film.
Back in the 80s, when MGM was a bit tight on cash, the studio sold the rights to the 1959 Charlton Heston film. So, you may ask, how are they able to make a new movie? Well, the source material (Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, written in 1880 by Lew Wallace) is part of the public domain; which means rights aren’t an issue.
Here’s the plot of Ben-Hur:
Judah Ben-Hur was a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector. After the latter leaves to be educated in Rome for five years, the young man returns with a different attitude. Messala mocks Judah and his religion and when a procession passes by Judah’s house and a roof tile accidentally falls and hits the governor, Messala betrays his childhood friend and manipulates it so that Judah is sold into slavery and certain death on a Roman warship, with his mother and sister thrown in prison for life.
Ben-Hur survives and returns to take his revenge on Messala.