King is suing executives at IM Global and Independent Film Company, the firms behind the movie, alleging the plotline for the new project comes from his 2004 book Skeletons on the Zahara.

In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in California on Tuesday (15Dec15), King claims he signed a contract with bosses at Independent Film Company in 2008, which promised him at least $250,000 (£167,000) for the rights to the book, five per cent of the producer's profits, and an amount ranging from $35,000 (£23,3000) to $50,000 (£33,300) if a U.S. studio financed the film, according to TheWrap.com.

King goes on to allege the contract expired in 2012, but bosses at the companies decided to move forward with the film without his involvement.

"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.

"Defendants did not obtain King's permission to copy Skeletons on the Zahara and 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 film centres on "the true-life experiences of the American sailors of the cargo ship Commerce, who were shipwrecked in 1815 off the coast of Africa", with Crowe set to play the ship's captain, James Riley.

A release date for In Sand and Blood has yet to be revealed.