Sean Connery has shut down his Los Angeles-based production company Fountainbridge Films, throwing into doubt plans for a Scottish studio facility as well as threatening the future of period epic Mary, Queen Of Scots.
Established in 1992, the company had produced such films as Just Cause and Entrapment with Catherine Zeta Jones and was one of the partners on the forthcoming $20m production on the early life of Mary, Queen Of Scots written by Jimmy McGovern and originally developed by Raging Star Films.
Connery's agent claimed the decision reflected the 71 year-old star's desire to concentrate on his acting career. There was also rumoured to be friction with Connery's Fountainbridge business partner Rhona Tollefson.
Connery has not filmed since Gus Van Sant's Finding Forrester (2000) but has a number of projects in the pipeline including Steve Norrington's period adventure The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen in which he will play Allan Quartermain and a possible return as Professor Henry Jones in a fourth Indiana Jones film.
The decision to close Fountainbridge also signals an end to hopes for Connery's plans to build a major studio on the outskirts of his native Edinburgh. However, rival plans for a 79 acre, $29m studio in the Scottish Highlands took another step forward last Thursday when the Highland Council announced its backing for a planning application by Artist Network, the company led by Braveheart actor James Cosmo and businessman Rick Wood.
Eurythmics rock star and film director Dave Stewart is also a partner on the project which expects to start work on construction within the next month.