"Ben-Hur" didn't have a prayer at the box office.
Hollywood's latest big-budget attempt to fill multiplexes with faith-based moviegoers and general audiences floundered this weekend, collecting an estimated $11.4 million in fifth place in the U.S. and Canada.
With a production cost of about $100 million, "Ben-Hur" was the last big-budget release of the summer movie season. The movie was a co-production of Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, with MGM picking up about 80% of the budget.
The most famous cinematic incarnation of "Ben-Hur"-released in 1959, starred Charlton Heston and won a record 11 Academy Awards-is considered one of Hollywood's greatest epics. When box-office grosses are adjusted for inflation, the film collected $848.7 million, making it the 14th highest-grossing movie of all time, according to Box Office Mojo.
The latest retelling of Judah Ben-Hur's redemption at the chariot track tried to attract faith-based moviegoers despite Hollywood's spotty record with winning them over. The movie was co-produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who have enormous cachet with religious audiences skeptical of Hollywood treatments of Biblical stories.
Paramount's "Noah," starring Russell Crowe as the ark-builder, collected a disappointing $101 million in 2014. Some religious reviewers urged believers to avoid the film, saying it manipulated Biblical text in irresponsible ways. "Exodus: God and Kings" disappointed at the box office later that same year.
"Ben-Hur" had something those movies didn't: praise from religious audiences who said it got its religion right without sacrificing big-screen spectacle. But the movie's paltry showing this weekend could discourage Hollywood from greenlighting future big-budget takes on Biblical-era material. Studios have generated greater profits when they target faith-based crowds with modestly budgeted dramas such as "Miracles from Heaven" and "Heaven Is for Real."
Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore said harsh critical reviews likely weighed on the "Ben-Hur" box office, especially in a summer that has seen audiences underwhelmed by new takes on familiar material such as "Independence Day: Resurgence" and "Ghostbusters."
"This has been very tough on sequels and remakes," said Mr. Moore. "The challenge on all of us is to make sure the movies are fresh and that they are top quality, even if it is a sequel or remake."
Paramount has had a terrible summer at the box office with other movies such as "Star Trek Beyond," "Florence Foster Jenkins" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows" also falling short. The studio's parent company, Viacom, has been embroiled in boardroom drama for months that led to the departure of Chief Executive Philippe Dauman .
Two other new releases, "War Dogs" and "Kubo and the Two Strings," also couldn't knock "Suicide Squad" off its third week in first place. "Suicide Squad" collected $20.7 million this weekend and now has grossed $262.3 million.
"War Dogs," starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller as two friends who stumble into international arms dealing, collected a tepid $14.3 million. Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. released the movie.
"Kubo and the Two Strings," an animated feature about a boy seeking his destiny in mystical Japan, grossed $12.6 million. The movie was released by the Focus Features division of Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures.
Of all the new releases, audiences liked "Kubo" the best. It received an "A" grade, according to the CinemaScore market research firm. "Ben-Hur" received an "A-" and "War Dogs" got a "B."
Year-to-date box office is up 5.2%, according to comScore.
Write to Erich Schwartzel at Erich.Schwartzel@wsj.com