Are remakes almost always doomed? Ben-Hur star Jack Huston tends to think so. While Disney had a stellar year at the box office, other studios weren't so lucky. And Paramount suffered one of the biggest casualties when its big budget blockbuster Ben-Hur failed to connect with an audience of any kind, going onto be one of last year's biggest financial disasters. It was an outright bomb. And it broke Huston's heart.
Jack Huston is perhaps best known for his role as Richard Harrow on HBO's hit drama Boardwalk Empire, which ended its run in 2014. Ever since, Huston has been hard at work trying to become one of Hollywood's leading men. He took on the lead role in a remake of The Crow, but the studio behind that movie filed for bankruptcy and he soon departed the fledglinging project. He settled on another remake as his big breakout, with the biblical themedBen-Hur, a redo of the 1959 Charlton Heston classic. It was a movie audiences didn't want, at all. Set against a $100 million budget, the movie only made $26.4 million in the states. A flop. It went onto make $94 million worldwide, not enough to cover its expenses. This all makes it a little harder for Jack Huston to get another lead role as a bankable movie star.
Jack Huston will return to the big screen in the movie The Yellow Birds, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past week. And as you can guess, it's a much smaller movie than Ben-Hur. It's getting some attention, not because of Huston, but because it stars the next Han Solo Alden Ehrenreich. While talking about Yellow Bird, Business Insider discussed Ben-Hur's massive failure with Jack Huston. He says this.
"When I went into the movie I had a very candid conversation with everyone and I said, 'We're going to get nailed.'"
Right off the bat, Huston knew that audiences would never be able to let go of the classic Charlton Heston version to accept the new route they were taking. But he didn't want to pass up playing such a multi-layered character as Judah Ben-Hur. Director Timur Bekmambetov always had a different path planned out for the character in this redo. Huston goes onto explain that shooting the movie was seamless, but the problems came during post-production. Because those in charge at Paramount didn't feel the same way as the filmmaking team did. Huston explains.
"We did something very different in that Judah was never a hero. I wanted the audience to almost be guessing who was going to win the chariot race. What I found so interesting was we could recreate this amazing character...You hire a filmmaker, go with the filmmaker's vision. The movie kind of breaks my heart because I know what we did and it's very hard when there's a lot of cooks in the kitchen."
Jack Huston is no stranger to show business or how these things pan out in the long run. He is the grandson of famed director John Huston and the great-grandson of actor Walter Huston, and was born into the inner workings of Hollywood. He knows a little too well how the system works. Hoping to get his own voice heard in future projects, to avoid another potential bomb like Ben-Hur, the actor has started his own production company called CYSA Productions. The banner currently has 14 different projects in various states of development for both film and TV. About his experiences on and off the set of Ben-Hur, he says this.
"I learned so much from 'Ben-Hur,' the whole process was invaluable. And I stand by my performance in it because it was a real choice. I know there was a much better film there that we created, it just got lost."
Jack Huston is currently working on four different upcoming movies. None of them are remakes, with Berlin, I Love you, Stand By, An Actor Prepares and Above Suspicion all planned for release in 2017. If you missed Ben-Hur in theaters, which most people did, it is available on Blu-ray and VOD, and stands as a unique take on the material that is quite a bit different from the Charlton Heston version. Though, as Huston points out, it is not the version the filmmakers intended.