Parts of the film will be made in the Sassi di Matera (Stones of Matera), ancient cave dwellings, from February next year, La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno reported.
People travelled from across Italy as filmmakers look for extras to play Roman soldiers and other characters of ancient times, the news website said.
They are also looking for extras from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, while children will be auditioned on Saturday.
The remake of the 1959 blockbuster, which starred the late Charlton Heston and won 11 Oscars, is being produced by Timur Bekmambetov.
The film is based on a book by novellist Lew Wallace. Set in the Roman-occupied province of Judea in the Middle East, it tells the story of Ben Hur, who is wrongfully sent to the galleys by a Roman court and then fights his way to freedom.
British actor Jack Huston won the lead role in September, while American actor Morgan Freeman has been cast as a chariot race trainer.
The film is another major boost for Matera, which was named the European City of Culture for 2019 in October.
Parts of the remake will also be filmed at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios. The capital will also have a cameo role in the 24th James Bond, due to be filmed next year.