12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley has signed on to rewrite the screenplay for MGM's Ben-Hur remake.

We reported last month that Timur Bekmambetov was in talks to direct the reboot, and now his deal has been finalized. Keith R. Clarke (The Way Back) wrote the original screenplay, which is reportedly much more faithful to the original Lew Wallace novel. The story explores the formative years of Judah Ben-Hur and Messalla, before Messalla sold his friend into slavery after the Roman Empire took over Jerusalem. The script also features Jesus Christ, whose story is told in parallel to Ben-Hur's, culminating with his death at the hands of Pontius Pilate.

Sean Daniel and Joni Levin are producing for MGM, with Keith R. Clarke and Jason F. Brown serving as executive producers. The filmmakers plan on casting soon, with production tentatively scheduled to start next spring.

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John Ridley's other writing credits include U-Turn, Three Kings, Undercover Brother, Red Tails and his upcoming directorial debut, All Is by My Side.