Roma Downey's remake of the iconic movie "Ben-Hur" was altered after a controversy in Malaysia, resulting in all the scenes depicting Jesus Christ being cut from the version shown in that country to avoid breaking Islamic laws.
Downey, 56, a devout Christian known for producing "Touched By An Angel," is president of LightWorkers Media. She recently began speaking out about how Ben-Hur, as a big-budget movie, is on its way to becoming the largest cinematic flop in years after being lambasted by Hollywood press, according to Belfast Telegraph.
The Telegraph staff indicated neither Downey or her co-executive producer husband Mark Burnett were aware that their updated Ben-Hur film had been edited before release last month in Malaysia, a prominently Muslim country.
Downey and Burnett said they aimed to introduce the idea of divine forgiveness to viewers in the film, which has suffered in comparison with the multi-Oscar winning 1959 version starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins and Stephen Boyd.
"Woven into the fabric of it is the story of faith," said former actress Downey, prior to the movie's release.
"It is because Judah Ben-Hur has an encounter with Jesus Christ that Judah's heart is open. There, at the foot of the cross, we see his hardness drop away."
Deletion of the Christian scenes made the film 11 minutes shorter in Malaysia.
According to the Telegraph, Malaysians expressed fury about the film cuts on social media, asking how Christ and His actions could be cut from the biblical epic when they are central to the story's plot. An uncut version can be seen reportedly can be viewed in nearby Singapore.
The movie's distributors, United International Pictures Malaysia, stated on Facebook they were "required to oblige local legal requirements and guidelines for the movie to be released locally in the market."
The newest version is the fifth film adaptation of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace following the 1907 silent film, the 1925 silent film, the Academy Award-winning 1959 film and the 2003 animated film of the same name.
Ben-Hur premiered on August 9, 2016, in Mexico City and was theatrically released by Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on August 19, 2016, in the United States in 2D, 3D, RealD 3D, Digital 3D, and IMAX 3D. Online sources indicate the movie grossed $91 million against its $100 million production budget.