EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures has halted plans to begin production early next year on Paradise Lost, the epic-sized Alex Proyas-directed film about the battle between good and evil that is inspired by the John Milton poem. Bradley Cooper had been set to play Lucifer, Benjamin Walker to play the archangel Michael, and Diego Boneta playing Adam and Camilla Belle Eve, with a host of other actors lined up for the action epic. I’m told that the film isn’t scrapped; rather, Legendary’s Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and producer Vincent Newman will continue developing it to rework a budget that had passed the $120 million mark by 10% or 15%. The picture has crewed up for an Australia shoot and the talent and below the line is learning about the postponement right now. Films including Moneyball and American Gangster had their plugs pulled within a month of production and bounced back, but it is always a shock when a large film has its start date scratched so close to production, even if it is temporary.
I’m told by insiders that this process is being likened to The Lone Ranger, which Disney had originally scheduled to begin production last fall, until Deadline revealed last August that it had been unplugged abruptly, with Disney threatening to scrap it because the studio feared the budget would turn into a runaway train and could sail past $250 million. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski labored to bring down those costs through changes in the script and they and Johnny Depp made adjustments in their deals to bring the film down to around $215 million. In the case of Paradise Lost, there is so much green screen work and VFX that the budget looked to be getting unwieldy. They will try to rework those costs and possibly get the film into production by the late spring or early summer. Awaiting a response from Legendary Pictures, but several sources have confirmed the postponement.