Novelist and Producer Point Fingers in Court; Whose Fault Was "Sahara?"

by | February 5, 2007 | Comments

Accusations are flying between author Clive Cussler and producer Philip Anschutz over who’s to blame for the 2005 adventure stinker, "Sahara," which cost an estimated $130 million to produce and brought in under $70 million at the box office.

The debate is two-sided; Cussler claims his career was damaged by the poor performance of the Matthew McConaughey pic, while Anschutz says it was Cussler’s script revisions and public badmouthing of the film that made for low profits. The two are currently in court (Cussler sued Anschutz’s Crusader Entertainment production company) over the film, which brings up interesting food for thought: whose fault is it when a movie tanks hard?

"Sahara," released by Paramount, is based on one of Cussler’s popular nineteen-book group of novels involving the fictional adventurer Dirk Pitt. By all accounts the film adaptation held hopes of becoming the first in an "Indiana Jones" style movie series, though that possibility quickly became unlikely when the film opened in April 2005 as a critical and box office failure. Critics gave the film (directed by Breck Eisner, son of Disney’s Michael Eisner) a disappointing 38 percent Tomatometer.

"Sahara": What $60 million in the hole looks like

According to court testimony, Cussler claims that despite being granted initial creative control, filmmakers ravaged the script with revisions that omitted important plotlines. He also says that his influence on the production dwindled after director Eisner came on board, negating his right to final say.

Crusader Entertainment, which is counter-suing Cussler, argues that final say was not part of the deal after the hire of the director. They also claim that Cussler inflated the sales numbers of his book by half (instead of 100 million, only 50 million) leading the company to believe that the character and story was much more popular than it really was.

As for the script, it appears that while Cussler approved a screenplay by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (who co-adapted "A Sound of Thunder"), he had trouble settling for revisions by James V. Hart ("Contact," "Tomb Raider 2") and Josh Friedman ("Chain Reaction," "War of the Worlds"): "Cussler’s reaction to the changes was that Friedman ‘should have his keyboard shoved up his anal canal.‘"

Furthermore, Cussler claims that director Eisner subsequently had his own way with the script, "changing it from a serious action-adventure into a slick jog through Africa."

Cussler’s only other novel-to-screen adaptation is 1980’s "Raise the Titanic!," another Dirk Pitt story that bombed with critics and audiences alike.

Tag Cloud

cars zombies Valentine's Day Western Interview Cartoon Network renewed TV shows Epix what to watch The Witch VICE Apple sitcom GLAAD Spring TV Spectrum Originals IFC Films rotten movies we love anthology IFC binge series Bravo disaster DC Comics Pop Hallmark Christmas movies mockumentary Comedy Central See It Skip It Masterpiece Amazon facebook canceled PBS teaser doctor who TruTV psycho Marvel quibi Teen BET blaxploitation versus YouTube Red harry potter video TCM 45 spider-man Walt Disney Pictures X-Men Apple TV+ Holiday The CW Starz 007 RT21 TLC CNN Premiere Dates Holidays comics 2017 NBC Quiz CMT based on movie Disney Action Heroines The Arrangement Podcast 2015 politics Writers Guild of America Biopics Emmys Universal Chernobyl TNT Tarantino Awards Tour spy thriller Binge Guide TV Land Countdown Sneak Peek Paramount cults Disney Channel historical drama Netflix Christmas movies witnail Election Apple TV Plus adaptation Chilling Adventures of Sabrina cancelled TV shows TV Watching Series Schedule Year in Review LGBT History Classic Film Mary Poppins Returns National Geographic adventure unscripted 24 frames Photos Tumblr spinoff Lifetime Christmas movies crossover Reality Lionsgate comic AMC USA Network Trivia dceu breaking bad Extras Rocky casting GoT robots Sci-Fi Freeform latino ITV comiccon werewolf TBS Drama aliens dramedy Mary poppins TCA USA American Society of Cinematographers slashers Food Network MCU WGN Women's History Month Box Office Rom-Com Trophy Talk Lucasfilm cats Marvel Studios Superheroe zombie LGBTQ Disney Plus Rocketman Certified Fresh Esquire Infographic game of thrones romantic comedy Ellie Kemper The Purge Ovation christmas movies toy story CBS Disney streaming service Disney+ Disney Plus Vudu Comic Book Pet Sematary discovery Creative Arts Emmys PaleyFest Crackle Star Trek revenge Fox News Netflix finale cancelled romance crime independent Shondaland police drama jamie lee curtis DC Universe ABC Paramount Network hispanic Pirates serial killer YouTube science fiction Columbia Pictures DGA zero dark thirty Hallmark El Rey talk show sequel television elevated horror TCA 2017 Mindy Kaling Amazon Prime Video tv talk Pride Month HBO boxoffice VH1 MTV Polls and Games hist E! Martial Arts cancelled TV series Emmy Nominations dragons miniseries Toys Sundance game show E3 blockbuster cinemax HBO Max Rock New York Comic Con mutant movies Superheroes GIFs docudrama Stephen King DirecTV Turner Classic Movies technology Shudder Mystery halloween Arrowverse WarnerMedia Turner space richard e. Grant A&E crime drama Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Elton John Crunchyroll Nat Geo Fantasy MSNBC Britbox war Musical CBS All Access 21st Century Fox Black Mirror Comedy Winners supernatural medical drama YouTube Premium Sony Pictures batman Dark Horse Comics Thanksgiving biography Sundance Now cops Television Academy FXX cooking San Diego Comic-Con Family 71st Emmy Awards YA Marathons Song of Ice and Fire Film Amazon Prime social media Captain marvel Brie Larson Mary Tyler Moore Kids & Family Showtime political drama golden globes period drama Cosplay A24 Peacock transformers joker Horror cancelled television Set visit SXSW Film Festival SDCC Video Games Nickelodeon anime NYCC animated Nominations ABC Family Syfy BBC America Anna Paquin Country vampires free movies Comics on TV SundanceTV Animation 2019 south america 2020 sports psychological thriller Tomatazos ghosts Warner Bros. true crime 2016 kids ESPN spain strong female leads Ghostbusters 20th Century Fox Fall TV Acorn TV Best and Worst dc nature award winner screenings DC streaming service Trailer Logo Winter TV theme song Pixar thriller Summer book Hulu Star Wars crime thriller Grammys Music Marvel Television Spike indie spanish language composers Mudbound FX cartoon Oscars Character Guide ratings Super Bowl Calendar streaming festivals travel Christmas OWN TIFF Opinion canceled TV shows 2018 APB Adult Swim Lifetime Awards RT History children's TV CW Seed foreign BBC Reality Competition President natural history Cannes stand-up comedy TV renewals First Reviews FOX singing competition Red Carpet justice league First Look green book The Walking Dead diversity Musicals