Sahara

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  • Directed By: Breck Eisner
  • Written By: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, John C. Richards, James V. Hart
  • Release Date: April 8, 2005
  • Domestic Distributor: Bristol Bay (through Paramount)
  • Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Penélope Cruz, Steve Zahn

Box Office Info:
Budget: $160 millionFinanced by: Bristol Bay
Domestic Gross: $68,671,925Overseas Gross: $50,597,561


This mismanaged disaster began with Philip Anschutz purchasing the book rights to Sahara for an absurd amount of money and after paying $10M for the rights, he also gave author Clive Cussler creative control over the script, the director and the actors.  Sahara was financed by Philip Anschutz’s Bristol Bay, which was formerly Crusader Entertainment and is the sister company to Walden Media.  Sahara was originally planned as a franchise, but instead has spent its post theatrical life in and out of the courts for almost a decade and has since been audited with its staggering losses and numerous instances of bribery in Morocco made public.

Sahara Movie Cast (2005)

Matthew McConaughey, Texas born producer/actor. Mom, a New Jersey substitute teacher and Dad, a gas station owner and pipeline supplier from Mississippi raised their children in Uvalde, TX. Not following his dad’s oil endeavors, he washed dishes and mucked out chicken huts in Australia for a year. He then went school to be a lawyer in Austin, University of Texas. Before his final exam he read the book “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Mandino and changed his career to film.

Steve Zahn, born to a Lutheran Pastor dad and a mom who worked at YMCA in Marshall, Minnesota. A bold young person whose audition crashing for a play won him the lead role. He trained in Cambridge Massachusetts at the American Repertory Theater. Moving to New York where he won a part in “Bye, Bye Birdie” and toured with the national company for 13 months. Upon his return to New York He was in a play with Ethan Hawke and Ben Stiller noticed both actors and the rest is history.

Penelope Cruz, is Penelope Cruz Sanchez of Madrid, Spain. Born to Retailer parents Eduardo Cruz and Encarna Sanchez. She imitated TV commercials as a toddler, but chose dance. She trained with prominent dancers after nine years at Spain’s National Conservatory. Aged 15, she beat 300 other girls at a talent agency audition. The deal led to TV and music video work, which led to a film career. The Greek Labyrinth was Cruz’s debut.

Lambert Wilson studied acting in London but his birthplace was Paris, France. He made his cinematic debut aged 22 (1981) opposite Sean Connery. He played leads in plays by Andrzej Zulawski’s. Received Cannes Official Selection and Best Director Award, 1984. He starred in Georges Wilson’s 1988 film. He earned the Jean Gabin Award (1989). Georges Wilson is his father and an actor/director.

Rainn Wilson, makes Los Angeles his home with his family. Wife, Holiday Reinhorn is a writer, and Walter McKenzie Wilson, born 2009. He graduated from Winnetka WA, HS New Trier but childhood was in Seattle. Rainn attended NYU’s graduate school in acting after attending Tufts and University of Washington. He then performed on and off-Broadway, with the Acting Company, and at Arena Stage and The Guthrie.

Delroy Lindo hails from Lewisham, London, England on November 18, 1952 but was educated in prestigious schools in America from San Francisco to New York. Has many awards and nominations for achievements.

Lennie James, raised in South London with Trinidadian parents. At 12 his mother died. He entered a council home with his brother. Aged 16 he was in a social workers foster care. Within a year he was inspired in creating plays. (Storm Damage got an RTS award in 2001). Lennie is a 1988 graduate from Guildhall. Giselle Glasman is Lennie’s partner in life. They have three daughters.

William H. Macy Jr., American actor got his start in independent movies but he has also been in big-budget movies. Macy has won four awards in screen actors guild and two Emmy Awards. He was also nominated for supporting role in the movie Fargo. From 2011 to 2021, he played Frank Gallagher, one of the main characters on the American version of the British TV show Shameless, which aired on Showtime. Macy has been with Felicity Huffman since 1997, when they got married.

Christopher Bello, Birth place is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA in 1971. Chris stays in shape in a non conventional way by working construction. His sister is actress, Maria Bello. Christopher has had a career in TV doing parts in several series beginning 2000 through 2011. CSI:NY, CSI:Miami, Law & Order: LA to name a few. He has had roles in several movies beginning in 2003 through 2015. Movies such as Sahara, Carjacked, & Baby,Baby,Baby

Mark Aspinall, acting credits include Sahara (2005), Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1989), and Coronation Street (1960) IMDbPro shares more to his credit including contact info, agent, and publicist.

Rakie Ayola born in 1968 at Cardiff, Wales, UK. Married actor Adam Smethurst, they have two daughters. Gave birth most recently in January 2009 to their second daughter. She won BAFTA TV award as supporting actress for “Anthony” (2020).

Before production began, Summit Entertainment pre-sold overseas territories to numerous distributors and Paramount signed on as US distributor with their first look deal with Bristol Bay.  The production was as fiscally irresponsible as filmmaking gets, with the original $80 million budget doubling to $160 million and distribution costs added $81.1 million to the already out of control spend.  Court documents revealed line items during production as “local bribes” totaling $237,386 in Morocco; $40,688 to stop a river improvement project that would implement a sewage system that would have interrupted filming; $23,250 for “Political/Mayoral support”; after script problems, 10 screenwriters were paid $3.8 million; Matthew McConaughey landed an $8M payday plus $833,923 in “star perks”; a vintage airplane crash scene was cut after filming that cost over $2M, etc.

Bristol Bay gave Paramount a $20.1M distribution fee for the domestic release and use of their resources and Bristol spent a huge $61M on P&A.  Sahara was dated for April 8, 2005 and as the release approached, novelist Clive Cussler sued the producers and attempted to block the movie’s release — claiming he had contractual control over the script, but was not granted it.  Bristol Bay countersued, claiming the author inflated book sales by as much as $50 million to drive up the costs of the rights.  After the film flopped, Bristol Bay sued for $50 million claiming fraud against the publishers and the literary agent to Cussler.  This went in and out of the courts until 2013 when the Colorado Supreme Court threw out the case against the publishers.

Sahara was dated for April 8, 2005 and bowed against the rom-com Fever Pitch and it received generally negative reviews.  It won the weekend with a soft $18,068,372.  Sahara saw a modest 27.7% second weekend decline and continued to post small weekly drops in attendance, but closed its domestic run with a less than blockbuster $68,671,925.  About $37.7M would be returned after theaters take their percentage of the gross.

Overseas, the movie pulled in a weak $50.5 million, across numerous distributors.  Sahara cost Bristol Bay $105 million in losses at the end of 2006 and their write-down of $78.3 million was projected over a 10 year period with continued ancillary sales — and then there was the millions they spent on litigation, which after 8 years went nowhere.

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