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Posted: Jul 13 2009, 02:03 AM
Member No.: 7,411
Joined: 2-June 06
It's slightly old/new news, but for those who somehow don't know.....
DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL
AUTHOR CUSSLER ORDERED TO PAY $13.9 MILLION TO ANSCHUTZ COMPANY IN MOVIE BATTLE.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | Modified: Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Best-selling author Clive Cussler has been ordered to pay $13.9 million in legal fees to Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz's film-production company, Crusader Entertainment, in the wake of Cussler's unsuccessful lawsuit over the movie flop "Sahara," according to a news report.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Shook ruled Monday that the contract between Cussler and Crusader called for an award of legal fees if either side breached the agreement, The Associated Press reported.
Crusader attorney Marvin S. Putnam said after Monday's hearing that he was happy with the judge's decision, AP reported. Cussler's lawyer Bert Fields said he would appeal the judge's ruling.
The dispute stems from Crusader's production of "Sahara," a 2005 action-adventure film starring Matthew McConaughey and PenÚlope Cruz.
Cussler -- whose 1992 book in his Dirk Pitt adventure series was the basis for the movie -- had sought about $8.5 million from Crusader, alleging that the company violated an agreement to let Cussler approve the movie's screenplay.
Crusader counter-sued, claiming that Cussler had hurt the film's prospects by demanding script changes and criticizing the movie in public, the trade journal Variety reported.
Crusader also claimed that it agreed to buy the rights to Cussler's book and another Dirk Pitt novel -- a $20 million combined deal -- based on sales figures that turned out to be wildly exaggerated.
"Sahara" lost about $80 million at the box office after expenses, Variety reported.
After a 14-week trial in Los Angeles that garnered national publicity, a jury in May 2007 ruled in favor of Anschutz's company, and Cussler was ordered to pay $5 million in damages.
But the jury left it up to the judge to decide whether Crusader should have to pay Cussler $8.5 million, representing the unpaid balance on the original two-book deal.
Cussler later filed a motion seeking the $8.5 million, but Judge Shook in January 2008 ruled against that motion.
Anschutz has become active in motion-picture production in recent years. Through various companies he has produced or co-produced "Ray," "Holes" and two films in the "Chronicles of Narnia" fantasy series.
I have always maintained over the last year or so that this would come down.But this is NOT an "I told you so".This last decision is just a reminder of how bad an idea this lawsuit was from the start.What always got me was that Cussler is basically a savvy guy,but here he was thinking with his heart and certainly not his head.He could have been much more diplomatic about all of this and in the end help create a film all could live with and Cussler had PLENTY of chances to do just that.Now the course of action he selected is continuing to bite him and really,was it all worth it ?? It's a lot easier to say that it was never about the money,as long as he got the rights to the books back, when all you have to pay is $5 million from $10-12 million already paid you with the balance going to personal legal fees and hope to break even. But now it's much different. Now Cussler's hit with an almost $14 million tab because he breached a contract and,as this comedy of errors goes on,he will be further billed by his showboat,overpriced lawyer,Bert Fields,who failed him terribly,with the appeal. Now Fields MIGHT get a reduction,but the irony here is too much,really.Cussler's final tab on all this,bad press included,will be a nightmare.
So, with this latest ruling,that puts the tab at $18.9 million and that does not include Cussler's personal legal tab with Fields himself and I'm sure he's not doing this pro bono.
When it's all finally said and done,in my opinion,it wasn't worth it. If Cussler did nothing and SAHARA faded into the sunset all by itself,that would have been the end of it. If Cussler helped with the film to make it a success while consulting with the script and the creation process,SAHARA could have been a great hit and a successful franchise would have been launched and all would be happy as the coffers of the Cussler empire get filled.These are much different days then when RAISE THE TITANIC was released,that's for sure.
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