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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 11:11 GMT
Cussler brands adaptation 'silly'
Clive Cussler
Clive Cussler hoped Sahara would lead to a lucrative film franchise
Best-selling author Clive Cussler has told a US court that Hollywood "tore the heart out" of his book Sahara.

Mr Cussler is suing production company Crusader, who turned the book into an unsuccessful movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz in 2005.

The 75-year-old novelist says the company broke its contract by changing the story without his consent.

"I thought it was just awful," he said of the film, adding that he considered the re-written dialogue to be silly.

Mr Cussler began his legal action in 2004, a year before the film opened.

It topped the US charts in its first week of release. It eventually took $119m (60.8m) at the global box office, but is said to have cost $130m to make.

Mr Cussler told Los Angeles Superior Court that a Crusader executive praised a proposed screenplay he showed them in 2001.

Penelope Cruz
Penelope Cruz posed with a camel at the film's US premiere
But, he added, they later turned to Josh Friedman to write the script.

Mr Cussler said he was unimpressed with the finished result. "I got as far as page 35. I couldn't go on," he said.

Film-makers 'misled'

Sahara was supposed to be the start of a lucrative movie franchise involving the character Dirk Pitt, who stars in 19 of Mr Cussler's novels.

The author's lawyer, Bert Fields, said his client was unable to get film deals following the movie's poor reception.

In a statement to court earlier this month, Crusader Entertainment's lawyers said Mr Cussler's rights of approval over Sahara 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 also claims Mr Cussler misled them by saying he had sold 100 million books. It says 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.

Author Cussler 'damaged by movie'
05 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
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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