PARIS – Fearing that actors could be mistaken for police — and chase scenes confused for the real thing — Paris is sharply restricting filming of action movies in the city that has been the stage for some of film's most memorable high-octane sequences.
Filming outside scenes with police, army or security services was quietly banned after the attacks in the French capital that left 20 dead, including three gunmen.
"There's a problem with these action-type scenes, as the actors in uniform could be targets for terrorists. Also, the actors could pose confusion for the general public — during this highly sensitive period," Sylvie Barnaud, the police official who grants outside filming permission in Paris, told The Associated Press.
She did not know how long the ban could last, but tensions remain high in Paris, with armed police and soldiers still posted outside sensitive sites, including synagogues, media offices and major shopping areas.
The telegenic city has long been a favored filming location, especially for chase scenes that feature some of the world's most recognizable landmarks.
Luc Besson's 2014 box-office hit "Lucy," with Scarlett Johansson, features a police chase next to the Louvre — something unfeasible under the new rules.
"Had Luc Besson wanted to film this now, it would be impossible," said William Trillaud, set fixer for the movie.
The same may have been true of 2014's blockbuster "Edge of Tomorrow," which was partly filmed in the French capital, staring Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise. Further back in film history, Matt Damon's famed Mini Cooper chase in the "Bourne Identity" wouldn't have happened, and the gun battle at the gilded Pont Alexandre III featured in 1998's "Ronin," with Robert De Niro, would have been equally complicated.
Scenes with religious sites or schools, both protected under the emergency security plans, are also banned.
Several productions have already been disrupted including the latest movie from "Basic Instinct" director Paul Verhoeven, who police say just after the Charlie Hebdo attack pulled the plug himself on a sequence he had planned in Paris' main police station for his latest movie, "Elle."
Another movie, called "Flics Tout Simplement" ("Simply Cops"), which was supposed to have a scene with a police officer outside a school, was also stopped.
"Yes, we were meant to film this scene. But it wasn't allowed. Of course, we have to respect the new rules, and we changed the production plan," said the film unit director Stephan Guillemet.
Paris is holding its annual Film Set Fair this week, hoping that it will continue to attract big productions — and trumpets that it gave the green light to 1,159 film productions in the capital last year alone.
"It could have an impact on the big American productions. ... It's not the right moment to do it," said Agnes Naggeotte of the Cinema Mission of the City of Paris. "Even if Steven Spielberg wanted to film a big scene with police and a shoot-out in the streets in January I'm sure it would not have got made."