Russell Crowe Movie ‘In Sand and Blood’ Sparks Copyright Lawsuit

Author Dean King claims the upcoming drama ripped off his book “Skeletons on the Zahara”

Russell Crowe‘s latest film project is already generating buzz. Unfortunately, that buzz is happening in the legal system.

IM Global and Independent Film Company have been slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit by author Dean King, who says that the film project “In Sand and Blood” is based on his 2004 book “Skeletons on the Zahara.”

“The motion picture ‘In Sand and Blood’ is undeniably, substantially, willfully and admittedly copied from and based upon King’s ‘Skeleton on the Zahara,'” the lawsuit reads.

In the suit, filed in federal court in California on Tuesday, King claims that he entered into an option contract with Independent Film Company in 2008. Per the terms of the alleged contract, King was promised at least $250,000 for the rights to the book, plus 5 percent of the producer’s profits and another amount ranging from $50,000 to $35,000 if either a “major” or “mini-major” studio in the U.S. committed to finance the film.

King says that, after being renewed multiple times, the contract ultimately expired in 2012, but Independent Film Company and IM Global are going ahead with the project anyway.

“Defendants did not obtain King’s permission to copy ‘Skeletons on the Zahara’ an do not intend to compensate King or give him any credit whatsoever for exploiting the copyright owned by Dean King in ‘Skeletons on the Zahara,'” the lawsuit reads.

IM Global and Independent Film Company have not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

According to the lawsuit obtained by TheWrap, “Skeletons of the Zahara” revolves around “the true-life experiences of the American sailors of the cargo ship Commerce, who were shipwrecked in 1815 off the coast of Africa,” and the “incredible physical and emotional journey” of the ship’s captain, James Riley.

Per IMDb, Crowe has been cast as Riley in “In Sand and Blood.”

Alleging copyright infringement, breach of implied contract and other counts, King is seeking unspecified damages, plus “gains, profits and advantages” derived from the alleged infringement in an amount “no less than $5 million.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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