Oxford author Philip Pullman said he was disappointed a sequel to the multi-million dollar movie The Golden Compass appears to have been put on hold.

A report on the Internet Movie Database website stated that the two film versions of the second two books in the His Dark Materials trilogy — The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass — had been shelved.

The movie The Golden Compass, based on the first book in the trilogy, Northern Lights, cost $180m and has grossed more than $370m to date.

It was one of New Line studio's most expensive projects to date, and featured some spectacular special effects.

But the movie database said production of The Subtle Knife sequel was on hold as a result of the global economic downturn.

Eva Green, the actress cast by director Chris Weitz as witch-queen Serafina, was quoted as saying: "At the moment, it's quite dead."

Mr Pullman said he was "not surprised" by the news but "disappointed" filming for the sequel was not to start in the near future.

He added: "It would have been nice to see the sequel, but with every month that went past it became less and less possible.

"The longer you leave it, the more difficult it becomes — Dakota Blue Richards, the young actress, is getting older, which makes a sequel less likely.

"In the long term, who knows? Perhaps they will make a sequel in 25 years' time."

The Golden Compass, in which heroine Lyra fights against the Magisterium, was the sixth most successful film at the box office in 2007.

It was boycotted by some religious groups in the US, because they claimed the story was an attack on the Roman Catholic Church.

Mr Pullman is a graduate of Exeter College, and some scenes for The Golden Compass were shot in Oxford.

The film picked up an Oscar for the best visual effects and Ben Morris, 37, a former pupil from Bartholomew School in Eynsham, and his company Framestore worked on the film.

Mr Morris collected the Oscar for the digital effects used in the film, including giant polar bear Iorek Byrnison.

In August, film industry sources cast doubt on a sequel being made but Mr Pullman said at the time he remained positive that the sequel would go ahead.

Mr Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is his most popular work and The Amber Spyglass won the Whitbread Prize in 2001.