What is the riskiest movie of this year's crop of Oscar-nominated films? Movie-goers might be surprised.
Was it the western crime thriller "No Country for Old Men" or "Michael Clayton" where a burned-out corporate law firm fixer is targeted for assassination? Perhaps "Sweeney Todd" with its murderous barber or the Russian mob flick "Eastern Promises"?
If you guessed one of these nominees, you wouldn't walk away with a golden statuette. That's because it takes more than a criminal plot to make a film hard to insure.
Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, the entertainment community's veteran leader in insuring films produced by Hollywood production companies, found that the toughest movie to insure in 2007 was not a period epic, a crime thriller or a light-hearted comedy.
According to Fireman's Fund, the winner of this year's most risky film is "Into the Wild," the Sean Penn-directed production about a young man who abandons a normal lifestyle to explore the Alaskan wilderness.
The movie was shot in several rugged locations of Utah, Montana, North Dakota, Alaska, Oregon and Arizona – so medical concerns and transit and care of equipment had to be addressed. Several scenes were shot on cliffs and rocky ledges in the mountains and on whitewater rapids, which can prove hazardous not only for actors, but for cameramen and crew. In case of accidents or injuries, medics needed to be on stand-by with access to helicopters for transport to a medical facility.
The film also uses bears in several scenes. And, while the bears are specially trained, there is always a risk to cast and crew when using wildlife. In addition, Fireman's Fund had to consider potential risks regarding transportation of the bears (moved in air-conditioned RVs) and potential illnesses that could be spread by them to humans.
Finally, to capture the difference in seasons, the movie took a six-week hiatus in shooting. This could have created potential problems if the lead actors sustained illnesses or injuries – even death – while away from the set.
Is there a least risky production among this year's nominees? Fireman's Fund finds that "walk/talk" movies, where the actors are shot in simple scenes and don't engage in activities much beyond dialogue, are the easiest to insure. Of this year's nominees, "Lars and the Real Girl" and "The Savages" fell into that category.