According to Hollywood Wiretap (via Screendaily), Roman Polanski has officially pulled out of directing Pompeii -- that giant epic drama (based on the Robert Harris book) he'd been working on for the past nine months. Apparently Polanski left due to scheduling conflicts, when Summit International said they may have to postpone shooting in Europe next summer due to -- can you take a wild guess -- The Strike! Yes, The Strike, well, strikes again! In an official statement, Polanski said, "I put a lot of work and energy into the development of Pompeii, so it is not without regret that I have to decline my further involvement." This will most likely come as a huge blow to the film, which at one point had Orlando Bloom and Scarlett Johansson rumored to be up for the lead roles. As of now, no cast is official.
There's no word on where Summit (who've already sold the film to a number of foreign territories, including Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, France, Italy and Spain) will go from here, or who they will try to get to replace Polanski. Seeing as this was Polanski's little pet project, and that it would have been much easier to cast a couple of hot American actors (which Polanski wanted to do ) with the director still attached, there's a chance Pompeii could go in an entirely different direction. Will they opt for European stars instead? Are there any other top-notch directors willing to pick it up? One thing's for sure, there's no way in hell they're signing anyone at this point -- at least not until the whole strike thing is settled. And if they have to wait months to line up a director and cast, we're looking at a start date that, at the very best, will need to be postponed until at least next fall.