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Ben-Hur bombs with $11.4 million US debut as Suicide Squad remains top

Ben Hur

Story by Jack Foley

A BIG budget remake of Ben-Hur has bombed at the US box office, taking just $11.4 million despite costing nearly $100 million to make.

The Biblical epic, directed by Timur Bekmambetov and starring Jack Huston in a role originally made famous by Charlton Heston, placed only fifth in its first weekend, trailing fellow new releases War Dogs and Kubo and the Two Strings as well as holdover titles Suicide Squad and Sausage Party.

Going into the weekend, the marketing for Ben-Hur targeted Christian viewers in the hope they would get behind the film, which is more a re-imagining of Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ than a straight remake of the classic 1959 film.

But younger movie-goers simply weren’t interested and the film struggled to gain much traction, prompting Paramount’s vice-chairman Rob Moore to declare: “This has definitely been a rough summer for remakes and sequels.”

Sitting at the top of the pile for a third weekend was Warner Bros similarly critically-derided superhero flick Suicide Squad, which took $20.7 million for a US haul of $262.3 million. Overseas, the anti-superhero film passed the $300 million mark, bringing its global tally to $572.7 million.

Holding strong in second spot in the US was R-rated animated hit Sausage Party, which took $15.3 million for a strong 10-day total of $65.9 million.

It meant the first of the new releases to register in the top five was War Dogs in third spot. The film, which marks Todd Phillips’ first film since The Hangover trilogy, took $14.3 million.

The war dramedy, which is based on a true story, stars Miles Teller and Jonah Hill as two young Florida men who became international arms dealers during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Commenting on the film’s performance, Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. domestic distribution chief, said: “There’s no question this was a passion for Todd. It’s smart and quirky, and these two actors turned in a great performance.”

In fourth spot was another new release, the animated movie Kubo And The Two Strings, which took $12.6 million despite strong reviews. The film follows a young boy who embarks on a quest to unlock the secret of his legacy and fulfil his heroic destiny.

It boasts a voice cast including Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei and Rooney Mara.

Nestling just outside the top five, in sixth spot, was Disney’s Pete’s Dragon remake, which took in another $11.33 million for a US total of $42.9 million and a global haul of $57.1 million.

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