Roman Polanski is getting out of the volcanic destruction business and leaving Scarlett Johansson alone in the middle of a lava flow. Variety says he’s pulling out of his $100 million retelling of the destruction of Pompeii which was to be titled, well, Pompeii. Dead Bodies Buried Under Ash was probably too long.

Rumor had it that Orlando Bloom and Scarlett Johansson were at one point talking to Polanski about starring in the film, but that’s presumably over and done with now. Polanski is blaming his departure on the impending strike, which apparently scares him so much that he’s wet his pants. Polanski claims he’s afraid it’ll derail his production so he’s just not going to bother to make it. To me it sounds kind of like a convenient excuse to get out of pre-production for some other less convenient reason, but for now we’ll have to take his word for it.

Since he claims to be stopping to wait for the strike, you’d think that’d mean he’ll pick back up Pompeii once the impending June 30 SAG and DGA strike thing is settled. Nope. Pompeii producer Robert Benmussa says, “I’ve very little hope of that.” It looks like Pompeii is well and permanently dead.

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