MGM reports $47.8m loss from Ben-Hur box-office flop

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MGM’s expensive remake of Ben-Hur lost the company approximately $47.8m (£37.9m), investors have been told.

The company released its quarterly earnings statement on 10 November, telling investors that its earnings were $20.2m lower than the equivalent quarter last year, “primarily due to $47.8 million of film impairment charges”.

“Our third-quarter results were negatively impacted by a significant impairment charge resulting from the substantial underperformance of Ben-Hur,” MGM CEO Gary Barber was quoted as saying by Deadline.

Timur Bekmambetov’s adaptation of Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel cost approximately $100m to produce before promotional expenses, but has so far taken just $94m worldwide. In the US it took a disappointing $26m.

It opened to largely negative reviews, with the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw saying “the passion and grandeur of scale have gone missing. Bekmambetov’s direction has nothing in the way of nuance or ordinary human light-and-shade.”

There have been four earlier adaptations of Ben-Hur, the best known being William Wyler’s 1959 version starring Charlton Heston, which won 11 Oscars and became a box office smash.

However, it was not all bad news for MGM’s investors – earnings from TV increased by 108% to $185.2m, thanks to strong performances from Vikings, Celebrity Apprentice, The Voice and Survivor.

Barber said he expected MGM to deliver overall earnings of $390m for 2016.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Alan Evans, for theguardian.com on Friday 11th November 2016 09.55 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010