Luc Besson Considers Cutting Short 'Lucy' Shoot in Taiwan After Clashes With Local Press (Report)
The French director and the film's star, Scarlett Johansson, have been frustrated in Taipei by several paparazzi disruptions, including a near car accident involving crew and photographers.
Luc Besson reportedly is fed up with the media maelstrom that has followed his cast and crew’s every move during location shooting in Taipei for the upcoming action-thriller Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson.
According to local Chinese-language daily China Times, the French director has canceled filming several scenes in downtown Taipei and is considering returning to Europe as soon as this week.
The project has been swarmed by photographers since Johansson and the cast arrived in Taipei last week -- and several of the incidents have turned ugly.
Over the weekend, Besson’s crew was nearly involved in a car accident with a vehicle driven by local press, according to Focus Taiwan News Channel. The ordeal prompted Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin to issue a statement saying the “dangerous action” occurred because the media neglected to follow a prearranged coverage arrangement. He told the press the incidents had impacted the crew’s work and upset Besson. The mayor urged them to exercise more self-restraint.
On Sunday, the film’s security tangled with reporters again, however, this time resulting in police being called to the location after a photographer’s camera was damaged in a scuffle.
Johansson also has been "spooked" by the aggressive tactics of Taiwanese media, according to local reports. In one encounter, paparazzi are said to have pounded on the windows of a car she was waiting inside after a shoot.
Lucy is the biggest Hollywood production to shoot in Taiwan since Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. Martin Scorsese is scheduled to shoot upcoming period drama Silence there in June. Some local commentators have expressed concern that Besson’s bad experience in Taipei may affect future Hollywood plans in the territory.
Taiwan has a reputation in Asia as an exceedingly safe and polite place to work or visit. Some local directors have spoken out in the Taipei press, saying that media attention on a movie set is typical, and the Taiwanese paparazzi are better behaved than in many other places, arguing that the incidents are anomalous and shouldn't tarnish the territory's reputation.
Lucy stars Johansson as a woman forced to become a drug mule. After the substance accidentally enters her body, she mysteriously acquires supernatural abilities and becomes a fighting machine.
Universal has taken worldwide distribution rights outside of France, Benelux and China. The film is due out in 2014.