Roman Polanski's ambitious plans to base a film around the destruction of Pompeii appear to have fallen through.
According to Variety, the Oscar-winning director has bailed on the $100 million epic "Pompeii," putting the lavish production on indefinite hold.
Polanski exited to work on an unnamed alternative project, but that shooting on "Pompeii" may be difficult to start anyway. Apparently the film was slated to begin production in Europe next summer and fears of a potential actors' strike have prevented a number of thespians from signing onto the project.
"We've been meeting agents and they've all said they can't commit beyond June 30, 2008 because of the strike. Unfortunately, we are scheduled to shoot in Southern Italy in August 2008," producer Robert Benmussa told Variety.
If a strike is avoided and if Polanski's alternative project allows, the "Oliver Twist" and "The Pianist" helmer may still return, but the trade paper sounds unconvinced.
"Pompeii" was going to be based on Robert Harris' bestselling novel, which used the volcanic eruption as a backdrop for a more extensive story of politics, romance and aqueduct engineering, plus the usual Roman excitement.
"I put a lot of work and energy into the development of 'Pompeii' so it is not without regret that I have to decline my further involvement," Polanski says in a statement.