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Sahara: Big Budget + Big Bomb = Big Law

Opening statements are scheduled in a trial over the failed film 'Sahara.' In fact, the trial is over the fact that it's failed. Producer Philip Anschutz is suing author of the book Sahara, Clive Cussler, claiming that he wildly inflated the amount of his book sales, inducing Anschutz to make a deal he wouldn't have otherwise. Variety called it an "extraordinary" deal. They paid him $10 million for the film rights and gave him a huge amount of creative control. Apparently Cussler and his people said his 'Dirk Pitt' novels had sold more than 100 million copies. So, an audit of royalty statements reveal that the number was inflated by millions. (I wonder by how many millions, tens of millions?).

Bottom Line - - Anschutz is livid that the $130 million budget movie, that costs tens of millions more to market and distribute, grossed only $119 million worldwide. He thinks if he would have realized that Cussler's works weren't as popular as he'd said he wouldn't have put so much money in his hands...

But can you really sue over a bomb?

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.