Despite Alexander's failure to conquer the US,writer-director Oliver Stone was in bullish mood at the Marrakech Festival,where his three hour sword and sandal epic was presented earlier this week.

Stone told the press that the film would nothave been possible to finance or shoot in the US. 'The script was just tooambiguous, too questioning about an action-hero who was masculine/feminine.These are tough qualities in Hollywood,' Stone said. 'It's just toobig a life. It doesn't fit in into the Hollywood formula.'

Alexanderplummeted to just $4.7m in its second weekend at the US box office lastweekend. Warner Bros expects it to finish on around $40m at the domestic boxoffice.

Stone added that any Hollywood version would have made Alexanderas a revenge story, with the Macedonian king tracking down his father'skillers. 'Revenge movies are the western ethos,' he said. 'Oneof the problems with the movie for the conventional mind is there is novillain.'

Stone's film deals explicitly with Alexander's bisexuality.This, the director believes, scared the studios. He drew a comparison withWolfgang Petersen's Troy, in which Brad Pitt1s Achilles was 'allmasculine. They cut out the feminine. What I love about Colin Farrell (asAlexander) is that he is tender and vulnerable.'

He received qualified support from Sir Sean Connery, who wasin Morocco to pick up a lifetime achievement award. 'Visually, it wasstunning, but Oliver is always trying to go that extra yard to get up on thecross,' the Scottish actor, briefly in line to play Philip The One Eye inthe movie, said of Alexander.

Much of the movie was shot in Morocco. The Casablancabombing of 2003 briefly threatened to derail the production, but Stone revealedhe insisted on keeping the film in the country. 'We felt verysecure,' he said. 'Insurance premiums went right up. Troymoved to Mexico. Mr De Laurentiis announced that no Hollywood actor would evershoot in Morocco and so forth and so on -it was a shaky moment in Morocco'sfilm history. It would have been a shame to lose Marrakech to terrorism becauseMarrakech has been a centre of filmmaking from Orson Welles to Hitchcock.'
At the end of the press conference, Stone took the opportunity to scotch therumours, reported in the UK press, that he was hatching a biopic of formerBritish prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. He said was amused by the story,which he blamed on internet mischief-making.