What version are your old projects?
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You may want to try opening or importing the old project, but DON'T relink anything. If the project opens and saves successfully, the project file itself is probably fine and converted OK. Save it as a new CS5 project file now (and save another copy as a backup), and attempt to relink the files. If they all relink and you can save, you're in business. If not, go back to that backup you made (since the project file you were working on is probably toast now) and work methodically through the media to find the problem file.
Thanks for your reply!
I opened the old project file and skipped all relinking. But the same problem appears (locks up with bar at 50%) :(
However, I tried to open a couple of other older project files and those seem to work with this method. On the other hand they are not nearly so complicated as the first one (which contains nested sequences and more). I also restored the first one from a backup, but with no difference. Could possibly be a bug at some point with the conversion of the file perhaps. Gonna find out how to report the incident to Adobe as a possible bug.
The original file was saved with Premier Pro CS4.