| War victim: Mel Gibson
Los Angeles, March 2 (Reuters): The prospect of war in Iraq has claimed its first Hollywood casualty before a single shot has been fired — Mad Max.
Production on Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth film starring Mel Gibson as a post-apocalyptic road warrior, has been delayed until late fall due to uncertainties posed by a possible US invasion of Iraq, 20th Century Fox officials said.
Filming had been scheduled to start in July in the southwest African nation of Namibia.
Studios and producers behind three other big-budget films slated to begin shooting overseas this spring and summer — the ancient war epic Troy starring Brad Pitt, an Alexander the Great drama directed by Oliver Stone, and Star Wars: Episode III — insist their productions will proceed as planned.
Troy and Stone’s movie are both being distributed in the US by Warner Bros., a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc., while Star Wars: Episode III is a Fox release.
A spokesman for Intermedia Films, which is financing the Alexander project, said a war in Iraq could be a factor in choosing among several location options, including Morocco. “Certainly, we’re keeping our eye on world events,” he said.
Likewise, Warner Bros. said battle scenes for Troy, set to start filming this summer in Morocco, may be moved elsewhere if necessary.
“As in all other productions that use remote locations, we always investigate more than one site,” a studio spokeswoman said.
In a related development, the NBC television network said it was delaying production on an upcoming reality romance series, Around the World in 80 Dates, in which an eligible bachelor jets off on an international quest for love.
Executives at NBC, owned by General Electric Co, also cited security concerns over the possible outbreak of war, as well as anti-American sentiment in foreign countries that might dampen the tone of the show.
As for Mad Max, Fox Films Entertainment chairman Jim Gianopulos told Daily Variety, “Any time you do a show like this, it is a massive undertaking with enormous prep time. In this case, it is about the movement of huge vehicles and a mass of people, and with the pending war and all the potential logistical consequences, we had the latitude to wait and let some of this stuff blow over before going into full-bore production.”
Studio officials said Gibson remains firmly in place to reprise his role as a former cop roaming the wastelands of a dystopian Australian Outback in the fourth instalment of the Mad Max movie series.
The actor and writer-director George Miller also remain committed to shooting in Namibia, Fox said.
Fox, a unit of News Corp Ltd, had tentatively planned to release Fury Road next summer, but that date could change depending on when production actually begins, studio officials said.