Paradise Lost in limbo as bid to bring Milton to the big screen descends into hell

It should have been the ultimate "hell-on-earth" blockbuster, starring the "sexiest man alive" and including the most spectacular battle scenes ever seen on screen.

But a $120m adaptation of Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost has been abandoned after Hollywood belt-tightening halted the "war in heaven" before the first thunderbolt had been fired.

Bradley Cooper, People magazine's "sexiest man", signed up to play Lucifer, who battles his archangel adversary, Michael, in an "action-heavy" take on Milton's 17th-century verse. The epic would be produced by Legendary Pictures, the company behind 300, the CGI-packed fantasy film about the Battle of Thermopylae.

Casey Affleck and Rufus Sewell joined the cast of the film, directed by Alex Proyas, who took charge of the Will Smith sci-fi film I, Robot. Filmgoers were promised aerial battles the likes of which had never been seen.

However, budgetary concerns about realising Lucifer's rebellion against God and the subsequent heavenly carnage led to the announcement that shooting, due to begin at the Fox Studios in Sydney last month, had been delayed indefinitely.

Proyas is believed to have sought a 15 per cent increase on the $120m budget but was knocked back. Legendary called for script cuts to reduce the cost. Yesterday, the company announced that the plug had been pulled altogether on the ambitious project, because the intricate special effects technology was too expensive at a time when budgets are being restricted.

The actors were to have performed wearing motion-capture suits in front of "green screens" for the almost-entirely CGI film, with weapons added in post-production.

According to The Hollywood Reporter: "Legendary realised that to effectively bring to life Milton's war between heaven and hell, it was going to need Avatar-like special effects. But Avatar-like effects call for an Avatar-like budget ($237m), and execs realised the technology wasn't there to make the movie in the budget range in which they were working."

Paradise Lost now goes into Hollywood limbo, appropriately known as "development hell", where abandoned productions await a lifeline.

Warner Bros has dropped Arthur & Lancelot, a $130m "reimagining" of the Camelot myth, amid nervousness about budget increases and the pulling power of its relatively unknown leads, Kit Harington and Joel Kinnaman. Disney shut down a remake of The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp, after a dispute with producer Jerry Bruckheimer over its budget. The "tentpole film" – a film intended to generate large earnings to compensate for less profitable movies – has been rescheduled for next year after Bruckheimer trimmed $45m from the $265m total cost and, alongside Depp, agreed to defer his fees.

Over Budget: Films that ran out of funds

Divine Rapture

Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp descended on the Cork village of Ballycotton in 1995 to film a tale of miracles. Production ceased after 24 minutes when the film company's account was found to be non-existent.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Depp was also signed up for Terry Gilliam's doomed Cervantes adaptation in 2000. Floods washed away equipment and filming halted when lead, Jean Rochefort, was injured.

The Dark Tower

Ron Howard was to direct Javier Bardem in this adaptation of Stephen King's fantasy western. But Universal abandoned the project last year after its scale made it "more expensive than made sense for us to spend".


Stanley Kubrick's follow-up to 2001 had Jack Nicholson lined up for the lead and 50,000 soldiers from the Yugoslav and Romanian armies on call. MGM pulled the plug.

Heart of Darkness

Orson Welles seized upon Joseph Conrad's novel for his first film. He abandoned it and made Citizen Kane.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7


Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary


Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions