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PRODUCTION France

Polanski lets go of Pompeii

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Polanski lets go of Pompeii

The blockbuster historical thriller Pompeii, being produced by France’s Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde, has been hit with a big shock. Director Roman Polanski has decided to jump ship because of a delay in production, initially scheduled to begin next summer (at Ciudad de la Luz in Alicante).

Encouraged by the film’s co-producer and sales agent, US outfit Summit, this delay is directly linked to the strike planned to take place in Hollywood on July 1 as part of a conflict between producers and filmmakers, scriptwriters, actors and technicians unions. Polanski, 74, has said that he regrets having to abandon a project in development into which he put much work but prefers not to wait for a new date for production that has become so uncertain.

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Pre-sold to a number of territories (see article), the project (whose French producers include R.P. Productions, Spain’s Ensueño Films and Sorolla Films, and Germany’s Constantin Film) has not, however, come to a stall, with the producers now on the lookout for a new director.

A similar mishap happened with Wild Bunch’s Che Guevara, pre-sold as a project by Terrence Malick before he stepped down and a solution was found with Steven Soderbergh and his dual films (El Argentino and Guerrilla, see news).

Adapted from Robert Harris’ eponymous bestseller, Pompeii is set in the year 79 AD and follows a young engineer sent to the town three days before the eruption of Vesuvius. In charge of controlling the greatest aqueduct in the Roman Empire, which provides drinking water to the whole Bay of Naples, the young man detects a hazardous fault and finds himself plunged into political and romantic intrigue, which come to a brutal end with the eruption of the volcano.

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(Translated from French)

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