The shooting of The Pretender, Gilles Mimouni's next film after 1996 L'Appartement, is to be delayed until March 2002.

Shooting was due to start this month but has been held up by a legal wrangle. Mimouni's producer George Benayoun (Messaouda Films/Natan Films) has filed and won a breach of contract suit against his partner Les Films Alain Sarde, (a subsidiary of StudioCanal) which co-developed the ambitious $23m English-language project.

Although no formal co-production deal had been signed, Les Films Alain Sarde, which dropped out of the project this summer at pre-production stage, has been told to fork out $38,000 (Ffr280,000) in unpaid bills. The company is filing an appeal and judgement is not expected before three months.

Benayoun (under his Ima Films/Dacia Films banner) worked with Mimouni on L'Appartement, which starred Vincent Cassel, Romane Bohringer and Monica Bellucci and won both a Bafta and British Independent Film Award for best foreign-language film in 1998.

The Pretender is to feature Mathieu Kassovitz and Vincent Cassel as well as a yet to be signed up US actor.