Adapting hit books into movies is nothing new, and neither is remaking hit movies themselves– both have been going on since the very, very beginning of the film industry. But it’s rare to see something adapted, recycled and remade as often as Ben-Hur, which started as a huge bestselling book published in 1880 and has been adapted as two silent films, one sound one (the big one starring Charlton Heston), one animated one (also starring Charlton Heston), a TV mini-series, a play in which Jesus was played by a beam of light, and a modern play launched in 2009. Now, inevitably, it’s becoming a feature film all over again.

According to The WrapAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter director Timur Bekmambetov is in talks to take over MGM’s Ben-Hur remake. But don’t call it a remake to their face– MGM produced the Charlton Heston film but sold the rights to the movie years ago, so they’re basing the new film strictly on the 1880 novel by Lew Wallace, which is now in the public domain. When the new version was first announced back in January producers were promising something “much different” from the 1959 version, and will reflect the novel’s increased emphasis on the story of Jesus, who is amassing followers and spreading the word of what will become Christianity at the same time that Ben-Hur and his childhood friend/rival Messala are participating in chariot races. You know, the famous chariot races that Bekmambetov’s version would be insane to try and top?

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