From the Guardian.co.uk
Lizzy Davies in Paris
Wednesday October 15 2008
It was billed as the big-budget film that would bring hope and much-needed prosperity to one of Paris's most notoriously troubled suburbs. But shooting of Luc Besson's From Paris With Love, starring John Travolta, has been cancelled after 10 stunt cars were set alight during a night-time rampage.
Several scenes of the €38.5m (£30m) movie were due to be filmed in Les Bosquets de Montfermeil, a restive public housing estate in the north-east of the capital, which was one of the first areas to explode into violence during the riots of 2005. Following a string of arson attacks on Sunday night, however, Besson announced yesterday the project had been called off - possibly for good.
"We are deeply disappointed," said the local mayor, Xavier Lemoine, explaining that Besson's production company, EuropaCorp, had decided the risks to the crew and high-profile cast were too high.
Almost a hundred residents of Les Bosquets, a part of the suburbs that remains blighted with poverty, unemployment and criminality, had been recruited either as extras or as security guards. Besson, whose company was to pay the employees €100 a day, has spoken of his desire to mine the untapped talent of the banlieue and try to draw the cultural spotlight to a part of the world usually overlooked.
Moussba Harb, one of the recently hired extras, had taken a week off work for the filming, which had been due to start on Monday. The mother-of-four told Agence France-Presse she had been preparing a meal for 45 people since the weekend. "It's a missed opportunity," she said. "We wanted people to turn the page from the things that go on in Montfermeil."
EuropaCorp said filming had been "postponed" but not yet "abandoned".
A note from Radarsite: Famous last words: 'But we were only trying to help you...'