'Omen' film crew leaves Croatia after objections by Catholic Church


Dundalk-born film director John Moore has begun shooting scenes for his latest Hollywood film in Ireland after the crew was forced to leave Croatia.

Moore, who is working on a remake of the classic 1976 horror film The Omen, had intended to shoot parts of it in Zadar on Croatia's Adriatic coast, but said yesterday the crew had its licence rescinded after Catholic authorities objected.

The movie, in which a US ambassador learns that his son is the Antichrist, was filmed mainly in Italy and the Czech Republic instead.

Moore told The Irish Times he blamed the Catholic Church in Croatia for a campaign against the film.

"Last December, about a week before we were to go to Croatia, the [ alleged] war criminal Ante Gotovina was picked up in the Canary Islands. Part of the deal to get Croatia into the EU was that Croatia would have to hand him over to the war crimes tribunal.

"The Croatian government asked the Catholic Church to help them get people's [ acceptance] and the church's condition was that we be kicked out."

The film's sets were vandalised and burned down, and the relocation cost the makers half a million dollars and several months of work.

Moore's initial desire to shoot The Omen in Ireland was thwarted by the high cost of living, a factor that kept many Hollywood producers away, he said.

"Last June, I met the Irish Film Board and they tried everything they could to make it happen, but the costs in Ireland meant it was impossible.

"I'm Irish-born and bred, and I desperately wanted to bring this home, but the €25 cab fare from the airport, the €190 for a hotel room; it just couldn't happen."

The remake of The Omen, a €33 million production starring Mia Farrow, Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles, is due for release on June 6th, 2006 (or 6/6/6).