Source AP ©

'Sahara' budget increases

"Sahara" budget swelled with bribes in Morocco and the filming of a $2 million (1.48 million EUR) airplane crash that never made it onscreen.

A final budget and other documents filed as confidential exhibits in a lawsuit were cited Saturday by the Los Angeles Times.

"Sahara," starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz, was based on a book by best-selling author Clive Cussler.

Cussler has sued Crusader Entertainment, a company owned by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, claiming it reneged on a contract that gave him creative control over the movie.

Crusader filed a countersuit against Cussler, claiming he was disruptive during the film-making process and disparaged the movie before its release.

Each suit seeks millions of dollars.

Crusader's attorneys contend that the company lost more than $80 million (59.12 million EUR) on "Sahara" even though it opened No. 1 at the box office in April 2005. It generated $122 million (90.16 million EUR) in gross box-office sales, the Times said.

According to the documents, McConaughey was the highest-paid of about 1,000 cast and crew members on "Sahara," receiving $8 million (5.91 million EUR). Cruz earned $1.6 million (1.18 million EUR).

Other expenses included filming the crash of a vintage airplane, a 46-second sequence that was deleted from the movie because "in the context of the movie, it didn't work," director Breck Eisner said.

Ten screenwriters were paid $3.8 million (2.81 million EUR).

Documents cited by the Times also listed 16 "courtesy payments," "gratuities" and "local bribes" totaling $237,386 (175,425 EUR) in Morocco to expedite filming. That included a $40,688 (30,068 EUR) payment to stop a river improvement project while filming and $23,250 (17,181.50 EUR) for "Political/Mayoral support."

On the other hand, Crusader received $20.4 million (15.08 million EUR) in government incentives to film portions of "Sahara" and do post-production work in Europe, the newspaper reported.

Anschutz said in a sworn deposition that he never set a limit on production costs but became "concerned" as they climbed to $160 million (118.24 million EUR).

"What I wanted to do is make a good film," he said, adding: "At the end, we spent, in my view, too much money."

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