On Sunday night, in the Montfermeil suburb of Paris, several stunt cars were set ablaze and burned through the night in what is being investigated as an arson attack.
The affair has been handed over to the authorities who are looking into reports that security guards on duty on Sunday night saw someone carrying a can of gasoline in the area where the cars burned. Further, it is thought that the attack may have been an attempt to pressure Besson, reported Agence France Presse.
About 100 locals had been hired as extras for the film, directed by Pierre Morel and also starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
EuropaCorp had no comment when contacted and only reiterated the original press release which announced the film. However, local mayor Xavier Lemoine, told AFP, 'Luc Besson came to tell us this morning that the shoot was cancelled. This is a profound disappointment.' Besson, he said, 'felt that he couldn't shoot the film with the level of security required.'
Wire reports also say that the film is simply delayed while scouting for another location is underway.
Montfermeil is in the area that was badly hit during the 2005 rioting. The area is also one dear to Besson's heart as the site of Besson's planned Cinema City complex is in the same region.
AFP also reported late Tuesday that a journalist from TV network France 2 had been beaten up by three people in the afternoon near the scene of the fires while his cameraman had his camera stolen.