'Parnassus' is shut down

Prospects bleak after Ledger's death

Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," which was to shoot special effects work in Vancouver next week, has halted production indefinitely after the death of co-lead Heath Ledger.

The $30 million fantasy movie started production in December in London and the Vancouver shoot of interior and bluescreen scenes scheduled to begin Monday has now been put on hold.

The production issued a statement saying, "Over the coming days Terry and the producers will be assessing how best to proceed."

The film's makers also expressed their sorrow: "Heath was a great actor, a great friend, and a great spirit. We are still in a state of deep shock, saddened and numb with grief."

One person involved in the production told The Hollywood Reporter, "All who had started working on the film were told to go home. They're looking at possibly picking it up at a later date. At this point, it looks pretty bleak."

In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, craft union ACFC West Greg Chambers said the production is now listed as subject to a force majeure, invoking a contract clause that releases all parties from liability in exceptional circumstances like the sudden death of a leading cast member.

Gilliam cast Ledger as a member of a theater troupe trying to save a young woman (Lily Cole) from the devil (Tom Waits). Christopher Plummer plays Doctor Parnassus.

The film was to be produced by Vancouver-based Infinity Features at the Bridge Studios in nearby Burnaby. Officials at Infinity Features declined comment.

Adele Weder reported from Vancouver; Borys Kit reported from Los Angeles.