Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cussler sues over movie adaptation

In the LA Times Glen F. Bunting explains how novelist Clive Cussler is suing producer Philip Anschutz, who paid $10 million per book for rights to the best-selling Dirk Pitt adventure novels. Cussler argues that Anschutz went back on contractual agreements during the making of Sahara, the only novel so far adapted for the screen.
Cussler had final say over the director and lead actors (he boasted of turning down Tom Cruise for being too short) as well as wide discretion over the script (he disparaged writers as "hacks.")

By ceding so much authority to a novelist, Anschutz broke a fundamental rule in the film business: Keep the author out of the screenwriting process. Now Anschutz finds himself cast in a movie mogul's nightmare.

He has lost about $105 million to date on "Sahara," was forced to abandon plans for several Dirk Pitt sequels and is fighting one of Hollywood's most contentious lawsuits since humorist Art Buchwald battled Paramount Pictures over breach-of-contract charges. A jury trial is scheduled next month in Los Angeles.
Writer and blogger John August has some further analysis on the case.
Steve Zahn (left) Penelope Cruz and Matthew McConaughey in Sahara, directed by Breck Eisner, screenplay written by Thomas Dean Donnelly & Joshua Oppenheimer and John C. Richards and James V. Hart from the novel by Clive Cussler . (Photo: Keith Hamshere / Paramount)

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