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Posted: 2/5/2007 8:50:12 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/5/2007 8:54:35 AM EST by warlord]
I posted this here because in the murky world of movie financing, how the talent is getting paid is a deep dark msytery/secret known to only a few insiders in the movie industry. This case is about exposed their accounting methods. It surprises me how many movies don't make money, yet the studios are churning out movies by the ton.
===============================================
latimes.com
Anschutz blames Cussler for $105 million film flop
Anschutz blames Cussler for $105 million film flop
By Glenn F. Bunting
Times Staff Writer

2:18 PM PST, February 1, 2007

Attorneys for Philip Anschutz allege as part of a lawsuit going to trial this week that author Clive Cussler duped the Denver industrialist into paying $10 million for film rights to the adventure novel "Sahara" by flagrantly inflating his book sales to more than 100 million copies.

"Cussler and his agent had gotten away with these numbers for years," said Alan Rader, Anschutz's lawyer. "It was a lie and it doomed the movie."

The claim is "ridiculous," Cussler said this morning outside a Los Angeles Superior Court room. "They wanted the book. They solicited us."

The allegations surfaced at the start of a trial that seeks to settle a long-running dispute over who is responsible for Anschutz's company losing $105 million on "Sahara," the 2005 action movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz.

The trial, which includes claims of sabotage, fraud, profligate spending and racism, is expected to provide a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the often mysterious world of moviemaking. Lawyers are expected to finish picking a jury today and begin opening arguments Friday.

Among those on the witness list are Anschutz, the secretive, 67-year-old multibillionaire who shuns publicity; former Paramount Pictures Chairwoman Sherry Lansing; Breck Eisner, the son of the former Walt Disney Co. chairman; McConaughey, who also served as executive producer, and Cussler, the 75-year-old bestselling author.

Cussler initially sued Anschutz's Crusader Entertainment in 2004, charging that producers reneged on a contract that gave the author extraordinary approval rights over the screenplay. Anschutz countersued, alleging that Cussler deliberately torpedoed the film through his repeated attempts to write his own script, all of which were rejected by the producers. Both sides are seeking millions of dollars in damages.

In court papers, Anschutz's attorneys claim that Cussler "perpetrated a massive fraud" to secure an "unprecedented" $10-million per book contractual agreement during negotiations with Anschutz in 2000.

"The essence of Cussler's fraud was simple: He lied about how many books he had sold to induce Crusader to enter the Agreement," the documents state.

Cussler said his reported book sales are generated by his publisher. "They don't come from me," he said. "I don't have the foggiest idea."

The website of Simon & Schuster states that Cussler "is acclaimed worldwide as the Grandmaster of Adventure, a title richly deserved given that there are nearly 100 million copies of his best-selling Dirk Pitt novels in print."

Putnam Adult, Cussler's current publisher, has reported on its website that the author has sold "more than 125 million books," including 19 consecutive titles on the New York Times fiction bestsellers list.

And in a sworn declaration submitted Nov. 29, Cussler stated that "over one hundred million copies [of his Pitt novels] have been sold."

These figures place Cussler in the same stratosphere as authors Michael Crichton, James Patterson and Anne Rice.

But a review of more than 14,000 pages of royalty reports and accounting records found that the number of Cussler novels sold is closer to about 35 million, according to Anschutz's lawyers.

The audit, performed by the Los Angeles litigation consulting firm of Freeman & Mills was arranged by Anschutz's lawyers. The review took more than 350 hours and cost about $75,000, court records show.

Cussler's attorney, Bertram Fields, called the claim "hogwash." He said in an interview that while the precise number is "not computable," he will demonstrate during the trial that Cussler has sold more than 100 million books during his lifetime.

The estimate cited by Anschutz's attorneys does not rely on sales records of all of Cussler's 32 books, Fields said.

"They are pulling these numbers out of thin air," Fields said. "They made up this claim because they have no answers to Mr. Cussler's lawsuit."

Anschutz stated in deposition testimony that he was a fan of Cussler's Pitt novels and saw an opportunity to create a hit franchise similar to the Indiana Jones series. He said he agreed to pay an exorbitant asking price for the rights to "Sahara" based on assurances from Cussler that the author had a built-in audience of more than 100 million potential moviegoers.

"This deal would never have happened if Cussler and his agent had told the truth about the number of books sold," Rader said.

Cussler has denied giving Anschutz any such assurances.

If Anschutz was paying for a fan base, Fields said, the number of potential moviegoers far exceeds 100 million.

"You are talking about 32 books in 40 languages in several versions — trade, softcover, hardcover, mass market paperback, book clubs, books on tape — in 100 countries. That's not even talking about the sales of used books."

glenn.bunting@latimes.com

Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times

partners: KTLA Hoy
Link Posted: 2/5/2007 9:04:11 AM EST
All I know is I want my $8 back after watching that movie. Clive is a master of detail and well written plots. That movie had neither. It was like watching the main character from "Failure to Launch" as Dirk Pitt in a SNL spoof 2 hours long.
Link Posted: 2/5/2007 9:05:05 AM EST
i'm a huge cussler fan, but i didn't see the movie... maybe it's better that way.
Link Posted: 2/5/2007 9:54:08 AM EST
Did anybody bother to ask how much money “Raise the Titanic” cost?

I don’t think so.

It was the Turkey of the year.
Link Posted: 2/5/2007 10:37:02 AM EST

Originally Posted By GiggleSmith:
Did anybody bother to ask how much money “Raise the Titanic” cost?

I don’t think so.

It was the Turkey of the year.


According to IMDB, it cost $36m, took in about $15M.

RTT business

Link Posted: 2/5/2007 10:56:57 AM EST
I read several Cussler novels as a teen and liked them (although a few were a bit out-there). When I was forced to endure Sahara on a cross-country flight, I considered drowning myself in the lavatory to make the pain stop.


Kharn
Link Posted: 2/5/2007 2:15:29 PM EST

Attorneys for Philip Anschutz allege as part of a lawsuit going to trial this week that author Clive Cussler duped the Denver industrialist into paying $10 million for film rights to the adventure novel "Sahara" by flagrantly inflating his book sales to more than 100 million copies.


Why does the number of copies sold matter? I mean, if you read a book and it's not worth making a movie about, shouldn't you be able to figure that out without knowing how many copies were sold?
Link Posted: 2/5/2007 5:33:32 PM EST
I really feel bad for Cussler. He has had only two of his books made into movies, and they've both sucked. I haven't seen Sahara and won't spend any money to.

Cussler is a great guy. When I was at the Academy, I wrote him a letter asking about hardcover editions of his books. He hand-wrote a reply that I still have somewhere.

He's up there with Clancy in my favorite-authors list.
Link Posted: 2/9/2007 12:03:50 PM EST
latimes.com
Cussler aims to avoid being cast as a 'bad guy'

The novelist's lawyers say slur allegations are being used to divert attention in the case.
By Glenn F. Bunting
Times Staff Writer

February 9, 2007

As novelist Clive Cussler takes the witness stand today in a Hollywood breach-of-contract trial, his lawyers say they want to prevent the author from being portrayed as "an unstable, racist crackpot," a "befuddled alcoholic" and an "overall bad guy."

Entertainment lawyer Bertram Fields said that attorneys for Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz were trying to use such allegations, all of which are denied by Cussler, to divert the jury's attention from the facts.

"For weeks, you are going to hear personal stuff about Mr. Cussler," Fields warned jurors during opening arguments last week. "Hold your ears. You'll hear them claim that he was difficult and cantankerous and grumpy and even rude."

Anschutz's attorneys conceded that they would fully explore Cussler's conduct — particularly accusations that he made racist and anti-Semitic slurs — to demonstrate that the 75-year-old author acted unreasonably during development of the movie "Sahara." But they said they had no plans to exploit additional evidence that could prove damaging to Cussler's reputation.

The attorneys said they never intended, for example, to disclose to the jury that Cussler believed the moon landing was a government hoax or that he was intolerant of his fans, calling one loyal reader "a loathsome toad."

"The idea that we are trying to get away with something is nonsense," said Alan Rader, Anschutz's attorney from O'Melveny & Myers. "Cussler breached a contract by acting in bad faith. That is our focus."

Cussler initially sued Anschutz's Crusader Entertainment for allegedly reneging on a written agreement that gave him extraordinary approval rights over the adaptation of "Sahara," one in a series of his bestselling Dirk Pitt adventure novels. Anschutz countersued, claiming that Cussler deliberately undermined the adventure film, which has lost about $105 million.

Each side has spent three years and millions of dollars preparing for the trial, which is expected to last about two months.

When he initiated litigation in January 2004, Cussler said in an interview, he had no idea that he would be subjected to an assault on his character.

"I was hurt because it's not true," he said of allegations that he used racial and religious epithets and engaged in "erratic" behavior. "I think you can figure out why they are doing it."

The allegations are contained in sworn depositions taken from dozens of witnesses, including producers, directors and screenwriters. They include testimony that Cussler tossed over his shoulder a script he called "a piece of crap," engaged in a telephone "screaming match" for 2 1/2 hours with actor Matthew McConaughey and launched a "tirade" against actor Tom Cruise for failing to meet with him to discuss playing Pitt.

Cussler's attorneys filed nearly two dozen motions seeking to preclude unflattering information about Cussler from the trial. "The only purpose for introducing such evidence would be to publicly embarrass Mr. Cussler," they wrote.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John P. Shook rejected many of the motions, ruling that much of the material was relevant to the case and should be heard by the jury. On the allegation that Cussler exercised his approval rights based on racial prejudice and anti-Semitism, Shook wrote that jurors were entitled to hear "whether or not Cussler's decisions were affected by bigotry."

But the judge ordered that other evidence was inadmissible, including allegations that Cussler abused alcohol after the death of his wife and his views on the moon landing.

Shook also barred testimony about a "doodle" made by Cussler depicting Anschutz's partner, Crusader executive Howard Baldwin, kissing the derriere of then-Paramount Pictures Chairwoman Sherry Lansing. Cussler sent the drawing to his agent to show Baldwin "brown-nosing" the head of Paramount. It was drawn on a copy of a June 17, 2002, news release announcing that Paramount had signed a three-year motion picture deal to distribute Crusader films.

"It's a joke," Cussler testified during a deposition. "I don't know what else to say."

Perhaps the most damaging testimony came from Carole Bartholomeaux, Cussler's former public relations consultant of 18 years. She said Cussler made disparaging remarks about blacks, Jews and women during the screenwriting process. At least four other witnesses also stated that Cussler used racial and anti-Semitic slurs.

The jury of eight women and four men includes four African Americans.

Bartholomeaux also testified that Cussler began drinking excessively after his wife of 47 years died of cancer in January 2003. In court papers, Cussler's lawyers said that Anschutz's attorneys hoped "this so-called evidence will cause the jurors to view Mr. Cussler as an out-of-control or befuddled alcoholic and overall 'bad guy' once it is time for them to decide the issues."

Anschutz's lawyers said they had no intention of raising Cussler's use of alcohol.

Bartholomeaux is depicted by Cussler's lawyers in court documents as a "vengeful" former publicist who allegedly was fired "for financial improprieties." They wrote that Bartholomeaux was exacting revenge by providing Anschutz's lawyers with "tall tales" and "pernicious ammunition to hurt and embarrass Mr. Cussler."

Bartholomeaux, who is expected to testify in the trial, has declined to comment on the case.

During opening arguments, Fields sought to paint a sympathetic picture of Cussler.

"Mr. Cussler is 75 years old. Very recently, he had open heart surgery," Fields told the jury. "He is far from a professional witness…. He also uses colorful phrases. He is a character. He says what he means and he means what he says."

*

glenn.bunting@latimes.com

Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times
partners: KTLA Hoy
Link Posted: 2/9/2007 12:33:25 PM EST
I thought it was a pretty decent movie, at least compared to most of the crap Hollywood puts out.
Link Posted: 2/9/2007 3:33:53 PM EST
I never read the book, but the movie sucked the big one.
Link Posted: 2/9/2007 6:05:29 PM EST
Cussler's books always seemed hackneyed and cheesy to me, so it's no surprise the movies sucked.

The movie business is really glamourous, so it draws a lot of rich people and big corporations who probably don't know what they're doing into it. Even with good movies I liked. Thank You For Smoking was financed by the guys who created PayPal, and it probably lost money. But I think it was a great flick. But it's not the kind of movie a lot of people would like.
Link Posted: 2/10/2007 10:05:37 AM EST
This is really simple. The reason the movie lost money was because it sucked. Period. Cussler had nothing to do with making the movie. Its like screwing up a recipe, and then saying the food tasted terrible because of the Betty Crocker Cook Book!
Link Posted: 2/10/2007 11:22:04 AM EST
It wasn't so bad. The chick I was with got bored and gave me a humming bjer in the theatre. I made it a point to find as many movies as I could that were similar, after that....
Link Posted: 2/11/2007 5:38:42 PM EST

Originally Posted By raven:
Cussler's books always seemed hackneyed and cheesy to me, so it's no surprise the movies sucked.

.


+1 The whole neo Nazi base in Antarctica and the huge ass boat to keep the master race a float after the world is flooded

I like Sahara it was good enough for a mindless action movie
and the same about his books they are entertaining but are about at the same level as star wars realismwise

Link Posted: 2/14/2007 6:06:42 AM EST
latimes.com

Cussler struggles on the stand; another suit is filed
The novelist's agent is accused of overstating book sales before the 'Sahara' film flop.
By Glenn F. Bunting
Times Staff Writer

February 14, 2007

As novelist Clive Cussler struggled at times on the witness stand Tuesday in a Hollywood breach-of-contract trial, lawyers for his opponent, billionaire Philip Anschutz, filed a lawsuit in Denver alleging that the author's literary agent fraudulently inflated the number of Cussler books sold worldwide.

Anschutz's production company, Crusader Entertainment, would never have made the feature film "Sahara" if it had known that Cussler's New York agent, Peter Lampack, had "concealed the true facts for several years," according to the lawsuit.

The filing of the litigation came about as Lampack completed his sixth day of trial testimony in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

"It is a typical Anschutz bullying tactic to try to intimidate a witness on the other side by suing him personally," Cussler lawyer Bertram Fields said. "It is disgusting and despicable."

Anschutz agreed in 2000 to pay Cussler $10 million per book for the film rights to his Dirk Pitt adventure series based on Lampack's claim that the author had sold more than 100 million copies, the lawsuit says. It was not until last year that lawyers for Anschutz discovered that the actual number sold was "in the range of 30 million books," according to the lawsuit.

Both Cussler and Lampack have denied that they misrepresented the number of books sold. They said the "more than 100 million" figure was an accurate estimate based on the best available information.

Cussler initially sued Anschutz's Crusader Entertainment in 2004 for allegedly reneging on a written agreement that gave him extraordinary approval rights over "Sahara," the 2005 film starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz. Anschutz countersued, claiming that Cussler sabotaged the film, which has lost about $105 million.

On Tuesday, Cussler appeared confused on occasion in response to friendly questioning from Fields.

When asked the name of an Academy Award-winning screenwriter whose script Cussler approved, the 75-year-old novelist said "David Hart" — combining the names of "Sahara" writers David S. Ward, who won an Oscar for "The Sting," and James V. Hart.

In another instance, Fields asked Cussler whether he got along with director Rob Bowman.

"We didn't," Cussler responded. "I never met him…. Oh, I'm sorry … I got along with Rob Bowman…. I thought you were talking about [screenwriter] Josh Friedman."

Sporting a silver goatee, Cussler appeared at ease throughout most of his testimony, which lasted less than two hours.

Fields began by asking, "Do you feel OK?"

"I'm not too bad," Cussler said.

The attorney then asked Cussler to confirm that his wife of 47 years died of cancer in 2003 and that he had undergone quintuple bypass surgery in 2005, a procedure that is said to have contributed to a loss of memory.

"Prior to the operation, my memory wasn't probably too great," Cussler said. "It's improved."

After Cussler's testimony, Anschutz attorney Alan Rader said in an interview, "They are piling one excuse on top of another. How many does it take before it all becomes unbelievable?"

Anschutz's attorneys startled the courtroom by declining to cross-examine Cussler. When Superior Court Judge John P. Shook directed Fields to call his next witness, the attorney said he had no one available.

"We anticipated days of cross-examination," Fields said. "This is very embarrassing. I apologize for that."

Anschutz's attorneys said they decided during the lunch recess to pass up the opportunity to confront Cussler because "nothing new" came out during his testimony. They said they planned to call Cussler to the stand after presenting their case to the jury.

Anschutz's attorneys "must be smoking some funny substances if they think Clive didn't score well with the jury," Fields said. "I think they liked him and they believed him."

glenn.bunting@latimes.com

Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times

partners: KTLA Hoy
Link Posted: 2/14/2007 6:25:33 AM EST
The movie was entertaining and I enjoyed it much more than the book.
Link Posted: 2/25/2007 9:42:19 AM EST

Originally Posted By www-glock19-com:

Originally Posted By raven:
Cussler's books always seemed hackneyed and cheesy to me, so it's no surprise the movies sucked.

.


+1 The whole neo Nazi base in Antarctica and the huge ass boat to keep the master race a float after the world is flooded

I like Sahara it was good enough for a mindless action movie
and the same about his books they are entertaining but are about at the same level as star wars realismwise



yea it was good with some good gun action
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