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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 11:02 GMT
Author Cussler 'damaged by movie'
Clive Cussler
Clive Cussler hoped Sahara would lead to a lucrative film franchise
The career of best-selling novelist Clive Cussler was almost destroyed by the failure of the film adaptation of his book Sahara, a court has been told.

Mr Cussler is suing production company Crusader Entertainment, claiming their story changes ruined the 2005 movie.

His lawyer Bert Fields told Los Angeles Superior Court that Mr Cussler was now unable to get film deals.

Crusader Entertainment is counter-suing the author, claiming he misled them about how many books he had sold.

It was hoped that Sahara would be the start of a film franchise involving the character Dirk Pitt, played by Matthew McConaughey, who features in 19 of Mr Cussler's 32 novels.

Story 'gutted'

But the movie, which also starred Penelope Cruz, lost up to $70m (35.7m), Mr Fields said.

He said Crusader Entertainment removed certain plotlines and ignored the author's suggested improvements, breaking an agreement to give Mr Cussler creative control of the adaptation.

"This was not the dramatic, gripping story Clive Cussler told," Mr Fields told the court. "As a result, the audience just didn't care.

"They tore the heart out of the story. The picture died, lost all of this money because they gutted it."

'No final say'

An opening statement by Crusader Entertainment's lawyers said Mr Cussler's rights of approval changed to a lesser consultation role once a director was hired.

"He [Mr Cussler] doesn't get final say," the company's lawyer Alan Rader said.

"Every single complaint Mr Cussler has made about changes to the screenplay happened after the director was hired."

Crusader Entertainment claim Mr Cussler misled the film-makers by saying he had sold 100 million books. They say he has sold less than half that amount.

The company is owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz, who also owns the largest US cinema chain, Regal, London's Millennium Dome and the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer franchise.

Movie makers in film 'flop' fight
01 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
Sahara leads box office in the US
11 Apr 05 |  Entertainment

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