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“Left Behind: The Movie” reportedly reaped $2.1 million during its February opening weekend, making it the nation’s No. 1 independent film. By late March, the celluloid version of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ phenomenally popular fictional account of the Rapture had earned more than $4 million. Meanwhile, the “Left Behind” videotape, released in October before the production came to theaters, was chosen “Best-Selling Video of the Year for an Independent Studio.” Such numbers, while impressive for most evangelistic films, are decidedly ho hum by Hollywood standards. But it’s not the numbers so much as the quality of the film that has disappointed Tim LaHaye.

LaHaye filed suit against Namesake Entertainment and Cloud Ten Pictures in July 1999, claiming breach of contract. LaHaye seeks to have the original contract voided so that he can control the film rights to sequels and children’s video spinoffs. LaHaye’s attorney, Christopher Rudd, says the producers did not make the blockbuster they had promised, thereby limiting the movie’s mass-market appeal. The suit says the producers told LaHaye that the movie’s production budget would exceed $40 million, although there is no language in the contract to that effect. Publicity, marketing, distribution costs, and production costs came to just $17.4 million.

“We made no promises to make a $40 million movie,” says Bryan Merryman, an attorney for Namesake Entertainment. Peter Lalonde, CEO of Cloud Ten, called LaHaye’s expectation of a gospel blockbuster “so unrealistic as to be absurd.”

LaHaye and Jenkins negotiated the film rights between June 1996 and April 1997, before the end-times novels became a publishing phenomenon. Merryman said,

“Tim LaHaye made a decision in April 1997 based on the way things were then. It was a fair deal.”

According to the contract, Cloud Ten owns the rights to future Left Behind films. Lalonde says that if he were to give back those rights, LaHaye would drop the suit.

In a five-page statement Lalonde said:

“Perhaps we were wrong to hold our peace for so long, but the damage that is being done to Christian filmmaking is simply too great to stand back any longer.” He said that LaHaye’s “personal, malicious, win-at-any-cost attack” was “one of the ugliest acts I have seen one Christian commit against another.” He was “shocked and saddened.”

It also disclosed what it said was communication between LaHaye and his agent in which LaHaye threatened “WWIII” if rights to a video series of the spin-off children’s series were not returned.


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2 Responses to ““Left Behind” author LaHaye sues “Left Behind—The Movie” producers”

  1. Glenn Powles Says:

    Better late than never, I guess.
    I am glad to see the legalities are settled but I was a little surprised to see it. Just a little, though. My gut feeling about LaHaye was that he has given in to greed. The original Left Behind books were, as I understand it were to be a total of 7. Then it jumped to 13. A law suit, too? Because Clous Ten didn’t spend enough on the production? Sounds like a desperate attempt to find any reason for legal action. Especially when the movies did so well monetarily.
    When I read the book series, the more I read in the later books, the more I felt like they were just trying to fill pages, not tell a story with a profound message. Sell books! Sell books! Money, money, money!
    These movies are outstanding!
    I pray there will be a number 4, 5 and so on.
    Cloud Ten, please make more.

    Glenn

  2. Denisa Dellinger Says:

    With the release of the new higher budget Left Behind film coming out next month, my question was why release a Christian movie that had already been done and with two sequels out already. I loved the original actors and Kirk Cameron was the only quintessential Buck I could pick. I can not picture any other actors in those rolls. I watched all three films last night in a row. Although I loved the cast, the films departed from the books and the third one was unrecognizable as anything coming from the beloved books in which I have read over and over. Lou Gossett was great as the president but he was only a minor character in the book. I wondered why Cloud 10 would spend time and money making three films over about five years and not make any more, now I know why. They were being sued. Maybe Lahaye didn’t like them either. They were kind of rinky dink in production value and they didn’t spend the money they should have for a better production value. I still would like to have the series continue but stay closer to the original plot instead of making something up just to be able to do it in a 90 minute movie. I am curious to see the new film even though I just can’t see Nick Cage being Ray. I hope that the film doesn’t disappoint but I don’t think this will be true. Big Hollywood always screws up a chirstian perspective as to relate to the general public.

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