(Photo: AP Images /Mary Ann Chastain)
An agreement has been made between the producers of the “Left Behind” series of films and the author of the book series, ending the legal dispute over the "Left Behind” film rights that began nearly a decade ago.
"We are thrilled to finally have this behind us," announced André van Heerden, CEO of Canadian film company Cloud Ten Pictures Inc., which produced three films based upon the first and second books in the” Left Behind” series written by co-authors Timothy LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.
"While we received repeated judgments from the Courts that validated our rights, we were unable until now to finally put this lawsuit behind us," van Heerden added in a released statement.
It was around the time that the first of three “Left Behind” films was released directly to video in 2000 that author LaHaye sued Cloud Ten Pictures and co-producer Namesake Entertainment, claiming breach of contract.
Although the first “Left Behind” film sold a staggering 2.8 million videocassettes before its theatrical release in February 2001 and reaped $2.1 million during its opening weekend, making it the nation's No. 1 independent film, the quality of the film disappointed LaHaye, who claimed the producers made a lower quality film than the contract demanded.
The creators of the books, which are inspired by biblical prophecies, were also dissatisfied with the distribution techniques Cloud Ten was utilizing, including the film company’s decision to release the first installment on home video through mainly Christian outlets.
"We thought we had a chance to reach millions of people with our message," LaHaye told the Los Angeles Times in an interview two years ago, amid the fight to win back the rights to the series. "And you don't do that with videos."
LaHaye and Jenkins said they naively sold the movie rights to "Left Behind" too early and ended up with what Jenkins called glorified "church basement movies."
The two had negotiated the film rights between June 1996 and April 1997, before the end-times novels became a publishing phenomenon. According to the contract, Cloud Ten, up until the recent settlement, owned the rights to future "Left Behind" films.
After the nine-year struggle, the agreement finally reached between the two parties resolves all disputes relating to the three films produced by Cloud Ten and grants LaHaye an opportunity to remake the films based upon these books.
Jenkins said previously that he and LaHaye were “hopeful” that another film or series of films would result as their agents pitched to studios.
Notably, however, if LaHaye does not exercise his options to remake the films, then Cloud Ten will retain its current rights to make sequels to its Left Behind films.
For now, with the lawsuit behind them, Cloud Ten plans to get back into active production and distribution of Christian-themed films.
"We're releasing three new powerful films this year and are close to going into production on possibly another four for 2009," reported van Heerden.
In addition to the film version, “Left Behind” has also been adapted into a real-time strategy game for Microsoft Windows and is also available in audio format. The book series consists of 16 installments which have sold more than 65 million copies. The sixteenth and final book of the series was released on Apr. 3, 2007.