The LA Times’ Glenn Bunting reports on the newest wrinkle in the civil trial between producer Philip Anschutz and author Clive Cussler that has, so far, seen accusations fly about inflated sales figures, script approvals gone wrong and how much money was made or lost on the 2005 movie SAHARA. So at the urging of Anschutz’s attorneys, Superior Court Judge John P. Shook arranged for the jury of eight women, four men and six alternates to view the adventure movie at an elegant screening room on the Paramount lot. Bert Fields, Cussler’s lawyer, had opposed showing the film outside the courthouse, arguing that the excursion would put “too much emphasis” on the movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz. “It’s prejudicial and pandering to the jury.”
Not so, says Alan Rader. “It is important for the jury to decide whether audiences enjoyed this movie or not. The only way to do that is to see it in a real movie theater with a real projection system.” But do they actually have to like or dislike the movie? Fields concedes the latter would help his case but it’s not essential.
“Even if they made a wonderful movie, Clive still gets to approve the changes because he is the decider, to use a current phrase.” So yeah, you read it right – jurors get to decide if the movie sucks or not as a means of moving the trial along. Who’d have thunk it?