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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Hurricane hits Hollywood shoots
Hilary Swank
Oscar-winner Hilary Swank was filming in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Movie crews were forced to abandon several major film productions to escape Hurricane Katrina, which has devastated part of the southern US.

Deja Vu, starring Denzel Washington, and The Guardian, with Kevin Costner, were among the films preparing to shoot in New Orleans, according to reports.

Michael Keaton's The Last Time and Vampire Bats, with Lucy Lawless, were reportedly already filming in the city.

And The Reaping, starring Hilary Swank, was filming in nearby Baton Rouge.

The extent of damage to film sets and equipment is not yet clear.

Canal Street in New Orleans under water
Hurricane Katrina has left much of New Orleans under water
Vampire Bats executive producer Frank von Zerneck told trade paper Variety: "Nobody's eyeballed this, but I have a feeling my trucks are under water."

Lawless, star of TV show Xena: Warrior Princess, is said to have been taken in by relatives of crew members in Baton Rouge.

"We are relying on the kindness of strangers," she told the Hollywood Reporter.

Disney chartered a plane to evacuate about 70 Deja Vu and The Guardian crew members from New Orleans, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Alternative locations

The Los Angeles Times said other movies due to be shot in Louisiana later this year include Bug, starring Ashley Judd, and Big Momma's House 2, with Martin Lawrence.

Some producers said their films were still on schedule while others said they were looking for alternative locations.

Louisiana has become a popular place to film thanks to generous tax breaks.

We had a depot that we sent prints to and we don't know if it's there any more
Bert Livingston
20th Century Fox
In 2004, 27 movie and TV films were made in the state, the Los Angeles Times reported, spending more than $125m (70m).

In Florida, where Hurricane Katrina earlier caused less damage, the film version of 1980s TV show Miami Vice was held up for several days but production resumed on Monday, the LA Times said.

Scores of cinemas are expected to be out of action and the public's attention will be focussed on the clean-up operation.

Bert Livingston of 20th Century Fox, which is due to release Transporter 2 at 3,000 cinemas this weekend, told the LA Times box office takings would be hit.

"We had a depot that we sent prints to and we don't know if it's there or not any more," he said. "This weekend is absolutely going to be hurt."

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