We first reported on the project back in January 2013, when MGM picked up the spec screenplay by Keith R. Clarke (The Way Back) after the studio emerged from its bankruptcy troubles with hits such as Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The script is reportedly much more faithful to the 1880 novel by Lew Wallace, which is currently in the public domain, centering on the early years of Judah Ben-Hur and Messalla, who were best friends as children before the Roman Empire conquered Jerusalem. After Messalla leaves for five years to be educated, he mocks his former friend's religion, and sets up Ben-Hur as the scapegoat for an accident, which causes him to be sold into slavery. Years later, Ben-Hur swears to get his revenge, culminating in the classic chariot races from the original movie
This remake will also include the story of Jesus Christ, whose story is told in parallel to Ben-Hur's, an aspect of the original novel that wasn't in William Wyler's 1959 Ben-Hur adaptation.