Alex Proyas' long-gestating Paradise Lost project - which was to shoot in Australia - has officially been scrapped by production company Legendary Pictures, after significantly exceeding its budget.
The film was to have starred Bradley Cooper as Lucifer, alongside such high-profile signings as Djimon Hounsou, Casey Affleck, Camilla Belle and Rufus Sewell. It is believed the projected cost of the production alone (before marketing expenses were added) was exceeding the agreed-upon level of US$120million. Production sources indicate the film would have needed state-of-the-art, Avatar-like effects work to fully honour Proyas' vision.
Cooper sent mixed messages to the media last month when asked about the project. “We're going to hopefully start in June,” Cooper had told Indiewire. “Everything's going great. I mean, nothing's done until we're up and shooting.”
Adding to the concern over cost over-runs was Legendary Pictures commitment to several other mega-budgeted tentpole films, including Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, an FX-heavy first draft script acquired in November called Spectral and the in-development supernatural fantasy Seventh Son.
Legendary Pictures has a distribution arrangement with Warner Bros, though the Hollywood major has issued no statement with regard to the decision to shutter Paradise Lost. According to the LA Times, the two entities, who co-partnered such hits as 300 and The Hangover, shared a 50/50 deal on 2008's The Dark Knight but have been in heated dispute over participation levels on its sequel, The Dark Knight Rises.
The New South Wales' Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Stoner, issued a statement this afternoon which expressed the deep regret the NSW film sector feels over the closure of the production. “This is a blow to the NSW film industry and will be very disappointing to the filmmakers and the crew and cast who were expecting to work on the film," Stoner said. He stressed that there is still significant work opportunities for local film crews, citing the Warner Bros animated production based on the Lego brand that is slated for post work at effects house Animal Logic.