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A sad ending for film trilogy

April 11, 2006

It seemed like a good deal at the time, loaning $300,000 to a film-maker who wanted to do the third leg of his Civil War trilogy here,

It was October 2002 and director Ron Maxwell had finally completed filming of his epic Civil War film, "Gods and Generals."

With the help of a previous county loan, that production brought plenty of money into Washington County, as services were purchased, vacant buildings were leased to build sets and hotel rooms were filled with cast and crew members.

But when "Gods and Generals" was released in 2003, it drew an avalanche of bad reviews. Many compared it unfavorably to "Gettysburg," its predecessor in the trilogy.

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And so, the film that had cost $86 million to produce and market grossed just $12.9 million worldwide. Media mogul Ted Turner, who had put millions of his own money into "Gods and Generals," is not likely to sign on for "The Last Full Measure."

That leaves the County Commissioners to decide whether to demand the return of the loan, which was contingent on production starting in December.

In January, Commissioners President Greg Snook said the county would ask for the money back. Last week County Attorney Richard Douglas said the loan agreement would likely be extended.

As we said in January, one bad experience should not sour the county on the film-making business. But it now seems unlikely the trilogy will be completed. Barring some good news from the Hollywood financiers, it's time to ask for the cash back.

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