HBO Films abandons ‘Days of Abandonment’ following Portman withdrawal

Natalie Portman. (Photo: Georges Biard)

HBO Films has pulled the plug on Days of Abandonment, less than a week after the Federal Government announced that production on the TV movie was about to start in Sydney.

In a statement made to The Hollywood Reporter, the company cites the withdrawal of star Natalie Portman from the project “for unseen personal reasons” as the reason why the production “will not move forward”.

“We are very sorry we won’t be able to bring this beautiful story to the screen with our talented writer-director and cast,” the statement said.

“We send our sincere thanks to our cast, producers, and crew for all their passion and hard work.”

The production, which was due to shoot in Sydney and regional parts of NSW, was announced as the recipient of a $3.4 million grant via the Federal Government’s Location Incentive Program on July 28, and was also due to be supported through the NSW Government’s Made in NSW Fund. The government said that as of July 29, no funding had been paid to the production.

In the screen adaption of Elena Ferrante’s novel, Portman was set to play Tess, a woman who abandoned her own dreams for a stable home life, and in turn, is abandoned by her husband. As a result, her world is thrown off axis. The cast was also meant to include Rafe Spall (Long Story Short) and Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds).

Writer/director Maggie Betts was set to executive produce the film with Sophie Mas for MountainA, Celine Rattray of Maven Screen Media, and Len Amato for Crash & Salvage.

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, previously stated the production would create 200 jobs for cast and crew, 500 extras roles, and use the services of an estimated 400 businesses across NSW.

A spokesperson for Minister Fletcher’s office confirmed the funds for the production would now be reallocated.

“After the producer of Days of Abandonment applied for and received funding under the Location Incentive program, the producer has now cancelled filming of this production since star Natalie Portman pulled out,” they said.

“Accordingly, the government funding has been withdrawn and will be allocated to other productions.

“There is a strong pipeline of projects seeking funding under the program and there will be more announcements coming soon.”