Ben-Hur release date gets bumped to a later week in August


Uh-oh. Deadline is reporting that the new version of Ben-Hur — which was once going to come out February 26 — has been bumped from its August 12 release date.

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The shortest Ben-Hur ever? Timur Bekmambetov says his version will be “two hours”, “not a four-hour story”


Admittedly, the headline on this post may be a tad misleading. The shortest version of Ben-Hur to date is a 16-minute one-reeler produced in 1907, before feature-length films had really become a thing. And there are also at least two animated versions of this story (made in 1988 and 2003) that are an hour in length, give or take.1

But as far as feature-length live-action adaptations go, the shortest version of Ben-Hur to date is the silent film produced in 1925, which has a running time of 143 minutes. The 1959 version with Charlton Heston runs 222 minutes (including eight minutes of overture and entr’acte music). And the 2010 miniseries runs about 180 minutes.

And it sounds like this year’s version might be shorter than all three of them.

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Box office: Melissa McCarthy beats Batman, while Zootopia becomes one of the top ten animated films in North America


It was Batman vs. Superman vs. Melissa McCarthy at the box office this week.

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Exclusive: Midnight Special director Jeff Nichols on parental fears and scientists who believe in something greater


From family feuds (Shotgun Stories) to unrequited love (Mud), the films of Jeff Nichols have often focused on deeply personal relationships and intense emotions. But they also sometimes dabble in genres with larger implications, from the is-it-or-isn’t-it apocalypticism of Take Shelter to, now, the explicit science-fiction/fantasy of his latest film, Midnight Special. Through it all, Nichols has kept his focus on the close and often familial connections between his main characters.

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How did Luke Skywalker “make his bones”?


The Star Wars universe is a violent place.

Smugglers, bounty hunters and Jedi Knights are all experienced killers long before we meet them, and even a teenaged princess-senator thinks nothing of shooting a stormtrooper in cold blood right after he declares that he intends to take her alive.

But there is one character who stands out from all these hardened killers, one character who enters the story as a callow young farmboy and only gradually rises up to become an experienced warrior. I refer, of course, to Luke Skywalker.

And here’s a question that has been bugging me for some time: Who, exactly, was Luke’s first kill? In mafia parlance, how did Luke “make his bones”? And how did he feel about the fact that, y’know, he had just killed somebody?

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Bible movie of the week: The Last Days of Pompeii (dir. Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1935)


Bible movies were big in the silent era, which came to an end in the late 1920s, and they were big again in the 1950s, when pious spectacle was all the rage — but very few were produced during the two decades between those eras.1 Hollywood, in particular, seemed to lose interest in the genre entirely during this period. Nevertheless, a few films did at least touch on the genre, even if they did not commit to it fully.

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