Newsbites: A.D.! Ben-Hur! Wilde Salomé!

burnett-downey-unitedartists1. First Mark Burnett and Roma Downey partnered with MGM (and Paramount) on producing the next big-screen version of Ben-Hur. Now the trades are reporting that MGM has bought a majority stake in the production companies run by Burnett and Downey — and, thus, a majority stake in their Bible-themed projects (as well as Burnett’s reality-TV shows, etc.).

Along the way, the trades mention that Burnett and Downey have started principal photography on A.D., their follow-up to The Bible, and that they could not be reached for additional comment because they are currently working on A.D. overseas.

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Watch: The first trailer for next year’s David and Goliath

vlcsnap-2014-09-21-22h04m03s56It finished shooting only two months ago, but Tim Chey’s David and Goliath already has a trailer — and it has even had a “red-carpet premiere”, months before its intended release date in April 2015.

According to the movie’s website, the film was screened for potential investors at the Zanuck Theatre on the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles last Thursday.

Why does the film still need investors if it’s already finished? Because it doesn’t have a distributor, and Chey wants to get the film into a thousand theatres when it opens next year. He is currently hoping to raise $5 million towards that end.

And that’s where the trailer comes in. Check it out below the jump.
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Amazon gets into the Bible genre with the series Kingdoms

rodericktaylor-bruceataylorIs the world ready for two TV shows based on the Book of Acts? Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have been developing A.D., their follow-up to The Bible, for over a year now, though there has been very little news about it since it was first announced. And now it may have competition. Deadline reports that Ian Sander and Kim Moses, producers of shows like Reckless and Ghost Whisperer, have set up a drama series at Amazon called Kingdoms, which will tell “the biblical saga of the Apostles – 12 ordinary men who clashed with the power and wealth of three kingdoms to change the world forever.” The show will be written by Roderick Taylor and his son Bruce, who have a bit of experience with “faith-based” material, as they wrote the script for The Surrogate, a thriller based on a book by Christian novelist Kathryn Mackel that Christian filmmaker Ralph Winter was going to produce a few years ago. Their best-known produced screenplay is probably The Brave One, a Death Wish-style vigilante flick starring Jodie Foster.

Toby Kebbell in talks to play Messala in Ben-Hur remake

CA.0322.wrath.of.the.titans.Variety reports that Toby Kebbell is in “early talks” to play Messala, the Roman officer who betrays the title character, a former friend of his, in the upcoming remake of Ben-Hur. The part was played by Francis X. Bushman in the 1925 film, Stephen Boyd in the 1959 film and Stephen Campbell Moore in the 2010 miniseries. Kebbell has played a number of bad guys lately, in films like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, and he has dipped his toe in the Greco-Roman genre via Wrath of the Titans and Oliver Stone’s Alexander. Kebbell joins Jack Huston, who is playing the part of Judah Ben-Hur himself, and Morgan Freeman, who will play the charioteer-training Ildarin.

Watch: Featurette on Exodus: Gods and Kings costumes

vlcsnap-2014-09-17-11h28m57s67The publicity team behind Exodus: Gods and Kings is handing out so many “exclusives” these days they’re beginning to lose track of them. Today, The Telegraph and JoBlo both posted a new featurette on the film’s ‘Costume Design’, and each website claimed it had an “exclusive” on the video. Oops.

The featurette doesn’t have any new movie footage, but it does go behind the scenes as costume designer Janty Yates (who won an Oscar for her work on Gladiator) describes how the costumes reflect the female influence in the palace, the change in Moses’ status from “leader of the Egyptian army” to “renegade”, and so on.

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Will there be “naturalistic interpretations” of the Red Sea parting and other miracles in Exodus: Gods and Kings?

exodus-redsea-horseThe Exodus: Gods and Kings set-visit reports keep on coming!

Earlier today, I linked to reports that were posted today by the European websites Bad Taste, Total Film and MTV UK. Now there’s one at Yahoo! Movies UK, and unlike the others, it actually says a few new things about the film itself.

Among other things, it tells us that the battle in the film’s first act will be not just any skirmish between the Egyptians and the Hittites; it will be the Battle of Kadesh, the largest chariot battle ever fought. This, it seems, will be another of the movie’s anachronisms, since the historical battle was fought in 1274 BC, five years after the death of the Pharaoh Seti, but in the film it is Seti (played by John Turturro) who sends the Egyptians into battle under the leadership of Ramses and Moses.

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