New Zealand director Vincent Ward has been dumped from the troubled film production RIVER QUEEN after a string of problems besieged the film.

Filming of the movie, set amongst the backdrop of the 1860 Maori wars, was put on hold in July (04) after OSCAR-nominated actress and lead character Samantha Morton was admitted to hospital with severe influenza.

When the cast, comprising of Morton, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Rea and Temuera Morrison, returned at the beginning of this month (OCT04) to resume filming in the central North Island of the Antipodean country, they were told Ward - who wrote the script - will not be returning.

Producers DON REYNOLDS and CHRIS AUTY said in a statement, "Filming will continue with all the existing cast and crew remaining in place. A further announcement regarding the production arrangements will be made in due course.

"We are continuing to film and it will be finished at the end of November and there won't be any extra funds required. It is still going to be a Vincent Ward film; it is still his vision."

The drama has besieged with problems since production commended, which many have linked to a cryptic newspaper notice by a mystery Maori group 'Nga Rangatira Whaka Kotahi O Aotearoa', warning the cast and crew of impending disaster.

Last week (19OCT04) castmember CLIFF CURTIS suffered minor injuries after his car plouged off the road and into the front of a house in Otaki.

And earlier this month (OCT04) a man was rushed to hospital after suffering injuries from one of the film's horses.

28/10/2004 22:10