View Full Version : Billionaire Claims Cussler Duped Him When Selling Film Rights

02-02-2007, 05:52 PM
http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/cl-fi-fraud2feb02,0,1927885.story?coll=cl-movies (http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/cl-fi-fraud2feb02,0,1927885.story?coll=cl-movies)

The suit alleges that Clive Cussler fooled billionaire Philip Anschutz into shelling out big bucks to the rights to film "Sahara" by inflating the sales of the Dirk Pitt to more than 100 million copies. The billionaire's lawyer says "Cussler and his agent had gotten away with these numbers for years. It was a lie and it doomed the movie." (That's odd, I thought the movie was doomed because it got bad reviews, wasn't very good, annoyed fans, and bore little resemblance to the book. :D)

But that's not all. This suit has been going on for years. It started with Cussler suing the filmmakers for reneging on their initial contract, which gave him approval rights over the screenplay. Then Anschutz sued Cussler and claimed he "deliberately torpedoed" the film by insisting on writing his own scripts, which producers kept rejecting.

This is interesting. "In addition to their effect on the trial, the allegations may raise broader questions about the authenticity of publishing-industry sales figures. Although they declined to comment on the specifics of the Cussler case, New York publishing experts said Thursday that the industry had a long history of inflating book sales and hyping an author's success. But these practices have declined, they added, with the emergence of Nielsen BookScan in 2001."

At issue is the fact that Cussler supposedly said the Dirk Pitt books had sold more than 100 million books, meaning the movie had a huge potential audience. But according to Anschutz's lawyers, their research of accounting and royalty reports showed they had sold 35 million. Hmm. OK, if those numbers are true, that is a discrepancy. (Then again, how do we know we can trust those numbers as they come from the lawyers of the man suing him? And how do we know Cussler knew them?) Anyway, that's still a lot of books. If you can't get people to come see a movie made by an author who sold that many books... uhm, maybe the movie sucked? ;)

So what do you think? Does Anschutz have a case? Does Cussler have a case? Should they both go back and play with their fancy cars? ;)

02-02-2007, 06:21 PM
Gee, only 35,000,000 sales? Hmmm, guess this means all those hit movies made from books with far, far fewer sales were just accidents, and never should have happened.

But in a way, sales never were tough to figure out. Publishers do not pay writers for sales not made, and a look at Cussler's royalty statements should clear everything up. Publishers may have fudged the numbers for publicity, who knows, but I guarantee they only paid Cussler for sales actually made. As if it matters. It's nonsense to say a movie wasn't any good, or there was no huge audience, because ONLY 35,000,000 copies were sold.

02-02-2007, 06:25 PM
Personally, I enjoyed the movie even though it bore little resemblance to either the book or the characters.

But besides that, even if the 100 million figure is wrong, Cussler's books are ALWAYS on the best sellers lists. His latest is currently on the best seller list.

So the audience is there IF the movie was any good.

I don't think the billionaire has a case myself.

02-02-2007, 06:43 PM
I enjoyed the movie, too. And it was far superior to Raise the Titanic.

I really enjoy Cussler's books, but my own opinion is that he needs to calm down about this stuff. It's not like the Bond movies are true to the books, but plenty of them are still excellent (though some are awful).

I would really like to see more Dirk Pitt movies made, especially Cyclops.

As to the inflation of numbers, I'm sure James is right. And Anschutz is a fool if he thinks there was no fan base ready to see the movie. His suit should be thrown out on the grounds of idiocy for bringing this up. There may be something to the allegations that Cussler was "torpedoing" the film. Still, if the movie was good enough, people would go see it. So I don't think they can show actual damages here.

02-02-2007, 07:27 PM
Give me a break. Book sales figures have nothing to do with the popularity of movie adaptations. Plenty of popular movies have been adapted from obscure novels, and plenty of movies made from popular novels have bombed. Sahara bombed because it sucked.

- Victoria

Kate Thornton
02-02-2007, 08:02 PM
Sahara bombed because it sucked.

- Victoria

I'm a big CC fan, but this movie was pretty awful - I looked forward to it because I like the books.

I agree with Victoria. Screenwriting - especially adaptation - is a whole other thing. And it's hard to feel sorry for a billionaire anyway...

02-02-2007, 08:04 PM
Give me a break. Book sales figures have nothing to do with the popularity of movie adaptations. Plenty of popular movies have been adapted from obscure novels, and plenty of movies made from popular novels have bombed. Sahara bombed because it sucked.
It's never a good sign when the local Blockbusters wind up putting the previously viewed copies of a movie on sale for $3.99 to get rid of them. ;) I did succumb to the tempation for that price. Maybe I'll get around to watching it one day.

Anyway, whatever the sales figures are, they don't tell the whole story. My father has never bought a Cussler book, but he has borrowed most of Cussler's audio books from the library. Many fans are probably like him. If he had known a Cussler adaptation was showing in the local cinema, he might have seen it, although by the time he got around to it, it would have been on DVD already. :D

02-02-2007, 09:39 PM
It was an okay movie. Blame the poor sales on a poor script.

I think this is all about ego.

02-02-2007, 09:50 PM
That's the movie about the Confederate ironclad that's found in Africa, right? It was so bad that a friend who'd just seen it phoned me long-distance to rant about all the stupid plot implausibilities.

Celia Cyanide
02-02-2007, 10:16 PM
Give me a break. Book sales figures have nothing to do with the popularity of movie adaptations.

I agree completely.

Just because you read a book doesn't mean you want to see it made into a movie. In fact, if a book is well loved, the fans might not want to see it made into a film at all. A good book won't always make a good movie, and a bad book won't always make a bad movie.

The number is copies sold is really not what studios should be looking at when they option books to be made into films. It's a factor, but it should not be the main one, and it should not be considered a reflection of how well a film will do at the box office.

02-02-2007, 10:25 PM
Didn't Sideways succeed as a movie before the book took off? I saw the movie first, loved it, then read the book and loved it more.

I also liked Sahara - it's a fun ride in spite of its implausibility. It could be the sound track, or Matt's muscles, though...

I haven't read the book yet, but I intend to.