For some reason, Millennium Films chief Avi Lerner likes to drop scoops in the Bulgarian press. That might mean that his revelation to the Standart that he is negotiating with Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz and Milla Jovovich to be in The ExpendaBelles is news that could be contained within that country, where Lerner intends to shoot the movie. Unless a movie news hound like me finds a secret weapon — someone who speaks Bulgarian. Aside from being the best TV reporter around, my colleague Nellie Andreeva grew up speaking that language and she still reads the newspapers. Translation: Avi, you cannot hide. Lerner also confides he is searching for a female director for the action film that has a script by Legally Blonde scribes Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith. Insiders say they need to find that director before they begin the casting process. All three of those actresses have done well in action including Streep, who did The River Wild. And given the beefcake names he has gotten for his The Expendables romps, why shouldn’t Lerner aim high? I would imagine Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton, Geena Davis and a few others might be getting phone calls. Stay tuned.
The parents of a stuntman killed last year in an explosion on a 2nd unit location for The Expendables 2 in Bulgaria have filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against NuImage, Millennium Films and individuals associated with the production. The lawsuit filed today alleges negligence in the death of Kun Liu, son of plaintiffs Zong Yu Liu and Yan Mei Bai. Liu was killed in the blast at Lake Ognyanovo about 15 miles outside Sofia. Another stuntman, Nuo Sun, was seriously injured in the accident. The lawsuit says the explosion occurred October 27, 2011 on or near a “rubber boat” during filming of a stunt for the movie. Liu’s parents are seeking general and economic damages to be determined in a jury trial plus funeral and burial expenses and court costs.
Twenty-two years after the fall of communism, the cataclysmic events and their aftermath continue to be on the mind of Eastern European filmmakers. Latest case in point: Bulgaria’s Oscar entry for foreign language film Tilt, a teen love story set against the backdrop of the dramatic changes in Bulgaria in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I lived through them as did the film’s co-writer/director Victor Chouchkov Jr. and his brother, co-writer/producer Borislav Chouchkov. We are members of the so-called “lost” generation, kids who were coming of age just as communism was crumbling and were destined to spend most of their adult lives waiting for things to get better while the democracy is going through growing pains. Also part of that generation are the protagonists in Tilt, played by now-famous young Bulgarian actors who made their debut in the movie.
Tilt, which was a box-office hit in Bulgaria, marks the first film for the Chouchkov brothers, with whom I briefly worked in the early days of democracy in Bulgaria. Both have colorful backgrounds. Victor’s career trajectory resembles that of Ron Howard. The director too was a child actor who grew up in an industry family (Victor and Borislav’s dad is a well known Bulgarian composer of orchestral and …
UPDATE 10 AM: I have now learned that it was a contractor hired by The Expendables crew to trim the shrubbery in front of Bulgaria’s Devetashka Cave that was fined and not the production itself. As for the movie’s producers, I hear they are taking the environmental concerns seriously and met today with representatives of local environmental organizations. Word is that the sequel has gotten their blessing to start filming at the cave and the shoot is not expected to harm the bat colony living inside.
PREVIOUS 1AM: Following a fatal accident during the filming of a stunt last month, the production of The Expendables 2 has once again run afoul of authorities in Bulgaria, this time over damages to a cave that has a status of a natural monument. Bulgaria’s environmental protection agency has fined the Hollywood production for unlawfully removing shrubs and small trees from the entrance to the local Devetashka Cave, according to Bulgarian news reports. The size of the fine is yet to be determined and will be in the 500-5,000 BG Leva range ($343-$3,440). Despite obtaining necessary permits for the elaborate shoot that involves building sets — including a bridge to the cave — the production is raising concerns among local environmentalists who fear that it may permanently damage the habitat that houses some 40 endangered species as well as one of the top …
UPDATE, 4 PM: NuImage/Millennium Films released an update today on the accident that killed one stuntman and seriously injured another last week during filming on a 2nd Unit location for The Expendables 2 on Lake Ognyanovo, Bulgaria. Those men are now identified, and other information is clarified in the statement below.
“Our deepest condolences go to the family of Kun Lieu. His passing is tragic. Our sympathies also go to Nuo Sun who was seriously injured as a result of the same explosion. We have been informed his condition has stabilized. He has been transported to Munich, Germany, where he is receiving top medical care from the best specialists,” said Nu Image/Millennium Films.
Regrettably, Bulgarian language newspapers have incorrectly reported that stunt doubles for Jet Li and Sylvester Stallone were involved in the accident. This is absolutely false and inaccurate. At the time of the accident neither Li’s or Stallone’s stuntmen were on or near the Second Unit set, nor were any of the film’s main actors, director Simon West or any of the Main Unit crew.
Only Second Unit filming has been temporarily suspended and will resume shortly. The filmmakers continue to work with authorities investigating this accident. Main Unit production has not been interrupted and continues as scheduled.