Taipei Denies Besson, Johansson Quitting Taiwan Reports

Local media intrusion irking director, not derailing ‘Lucy’ shoot, say sources

HONG KONG – The Taipei Film Commission has denied reports that “Lucy,” the now-in-production sci-fi drama directed by Luc Besson and starring Scarlett Johansson, is to halt production in the Taiwan capital.

Numerous local media Monday reported that filming is to be cut short on the island and that Besson and the production will return to Paris early.

“The shoot is going very well. Every setup is on schedule,” said a source close to the TFC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, due to a non-disclosure agreement. “It will complete its full 11 days here.”

The source acknowledged however that the famously press-shy French director had been angered by paparazzi photographs of Johansson in costume, and that the star had been scared when a photographer punched the window of a car she was travelling in.

EuropaCorp was more forthcoming. “The filming of ‘Lucy’ in Tapei is going forward as planned and will wrap next Monday,” EuropaCorp CEO Christophe Lambert told Variety.

The mayor of Taipei Hau Lung-bin said that a near collision between crew and press vehicles, which he described as a “dangerous action,” had occurred because media had not followed a pre-arranged reporting plan.

There is tremendous interest in the shoot in the city. One newspaper report saying that Besson was quitting the island is understood to have received over 200,000 page views.

Hau, who is generally very well disposed to the film industry and personally involved with the TFC, is expected tomorrow (Oct. 29) to call a press conference, at which it is hoped, but not certain, that Besson and his producer team will show up.

The film is a story of a female drug mule, who gains superhuman powers after the drug she is carrying enters her body. Shooting is expected to take place at locations including the Taipei 101 tower, the Longshan Temple and a hospital.

“Lucy” is the biggest foreign shoot to visit Taiwan since Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi.” Martin Scorsese is next year expected to use Taiwan for at least part of his upcoming “Silence,” a story of two Christian priests in 17th century Japan.

“Lucy” is produced by Besson’s EuropaCorp which last year opened the Studios de Paris / La Cite du Cinema facility with nine sound stages at St. Denis, just North of the French capital.

Universal has worldwide rights to the picture outside China, France and Benelux.

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