John Milton's famous blank-verse 17th-century poem, Paradise Lost, is set to be given the blockbuster treatment by Legendary Pictures. The studio has recruited an impressionable cast that includes people like Bradley Cooper, Benjamin Walker, and Oscar-nominee Djimon Hounsou to bring the Biblical epic's various mystical characters to life (under the supervision of The Crow and Dark City helmer, Alex Proyas).
Principal photography on Paradise Lost was previously slated to begin by January of 2012; however, it has now been semi-indefinitly delayed, due to studio heads' concerns over the project's budget spiraling out of control.
Paradise Lost will utilize a combination of digitally-based effects tools (green screens, motion-capture suits, etc.) in order to properly realize both the original story's multiple Archangel characters and three massive action set pieces - specifically, battles set in Heaven, Hell, and Eden. However, because of the expensive filmmaking equipment required to accomplish all that, the movie's estimated production budget has swelled some "10% or 15%" beyond $120 million and was in danger of climbing even higher.
Deadline says that Legendary Pictures executives and Paradise Lost producer Vincent Newman are now working to reduce the expected production costs for the project; for the time being, the hope is that said financial issues will be hashed out in time for the film to begin shooting on sound stages down in Australia by either late spring or the early summer of 2012.
Studios, in general, tend to be a bit more cautious about moving forward with expensive tentpole projects nowadays, as was most recently (and infamously) illustrated by Disney's decision to briefly pull the plug on its Lone Ranger movie, back when that Johnny Depp-starring western was expected to cost more than $250 million to produce. That move was largely a response to costly financial flops like Mars Needs Moms and expensive box office under-performers such as Green Lantern and Cowboys & Aliens released in 2011, which demonstrated to studios that heavy investments do not guarantee the final product will be a blockbuster smash (some people already suspect Disney's upcoming John Carter adaptation will prove to be further evidence of this).
Proyas' Paradise Lost adaptation is enough of a "surefire bet" to ensure studio executives won't simply kill the project before it can actually begin production. Hopefully, the flick's budget crisis will be settled relatively quickly and prove to be little more than a minor pitstop on the film's journey down the production pipeline.
We will continue to keep you updated on the status of Paradise Lost as more information is released.