Insuring a Film: The Figures

   To movie fans, there are few stories as epic as Terry Gilliam's attempts to commit his adaptation of Don Quixote to celluloid.

   Whilst the Monty Python alumni has made a career of bringing the ludicrous and the profane corners of his imagination to the big screen in a variety of visually inventive movies (ranging from Time Bandits to Brazil, The Fisher King to Twelve Monkeys), it is perhaps a legendarily cursed feature which does not (as of yet) exist which is the most remarkable tale associated with the director.

   Famously, between 1998 and 2014, Gilliam attempted to get the feature produced on seven separate occasions. Each time was hit by unmitigated disasters, incomprehensible events and just plain old bad luck.

   In 2000, for example, with financing secured to green-light filming this pet project of Gilliam's, the production of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was shut down almost as soon as it began.

   Floods destroyed much of the expensive equipment, illness deprived the film of its lead actor and a dispute over obtaining insurance cover for the project put a final nail in its coffin.

   As illustrated by the infographic to the left, as provided by AON Insurance, Terry Gilliam is far from alone in running into financial issues relating to insuring a movie production. Indeed, it is a rather commonplace occurrence.

   Whilst deaths to lead actors mid-production are, however, rare - although, as illustrated, high profile examples of this include Oliver Reed's passing during the filming of Gladiator and Paul Walker's death in the middle of shooting Fast & Furious 7 - it is astonishing to announce that Terry Gilliam has too suffered this fate.

   Heath Ledger, fresh from filming his ultimately Oscar-winning performance as The Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, was due to cement his status as one of Hollywood's most cherished actors with a central performance in Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. With much of the movie completed, the world was shocked as news rolled in that Ledger's dead body had been discovered.

   Yet, used to facing adversity, Gilliam managed to persevere and finish the film with an ingenious ploy - as no one man was capable of replacing Ledger, as it was stated, the director decided to hire multiple replacements instead. Up to the plate stepped Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell who each played "physically transformed" versions of the titular character as the story commenced.

   Similarly injuries, including most recently Harrison Ford's breaks which closed production of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, have equally caused havoc to budget-makers for Hollywood fare.

   It is no wonder, as such, that a number of celebrities have picked up expensive insurance policies as a way to counteract any possible problems they may experience on a film's set.

   So, for example, Daniel Craig insured his health for £5m whilst committing his own stunts on the set of  the James Bond films whilst Julia Roberts, famously, insured her iconic smile for £20m.

   The notion of insuring on'es body parts isn't a new phenomenom related to modern Hollywood either.

   One of the original screen sirens, Bette Davis, figured a large degree of her success related to her remarkable, hourglass figure and insured her waist for a then stunning $28'000. Comedian Jimmy Durante, who boasted a profile instantly recognisable around the world, insured his bulbous nose for the price of $50'000.

   These are costs that not many aspiring producers would ever account for!

 
 
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