The Profit (2001) | Banned Film

The_Profit_movie_poster 2001 The Profit | Independent film | Director: Peter F Alexander | Download .mp4 file

Financed by an ex-Scientologist, and featuring cameo roles by prominent critics, this (relatively low-budget) independent feature film presents a fictional version of the history of the Church of Scientology by… changing the names of everything:

  • ‘L Ron Hubbard’ becomes ‘L Conrad Powers’
  • ‘The Church of Scientology’ becomes ‘The Church of Scientific Spiritualism’
  • The ‘e-meter’ becomes a ‘mind meter’

This is not a great film (for various reasons given below).  It deserves exposure, however, because of the astonishing way in which it was suppressed.

“The Profit” was to be released at the same time as the Church of Scientology was appearing in court, accused  of causing the wrongful death of Lisa McPherson . The Church claimed that release of the film may influence the jury in that case, and  should be delayed until the trial was over.

In 2002, US  Senior Circuit Judge Robert E. Beach agreed. However, he did not stop there. In an absolutely unprecedented move, he crossed out the proposed language limiting the scope of the injunction to the geographical jurisdiction of his court so that it applied worldwide.

The Lisa McPherson case effectively ended in 2005, and the injunction was lifted in 2007. However, in the intervening time, the company formed to make the film had derived no revenue from it,  and  the Church of Scientology had seized effective control of it. Unsurprisingly, it has never been released. Consequently, the “Disinformation Book of Lists”, and the British newspaper “The Times” characterise it as a ‘banned film’.

As noted above, this is not a great film. Critics have described the acting as over-the-top and stilted. The plot provides no new information, and little insight. Also, the version that is available for download here is converted from a VHS videotape.

If you want to watch a good feature film that deals elliptically with Scientology, we recommend, “The Master” (2014).

However, on the positive side, “The Profit” was a pioneering attempt to present the true history of the Church of Scientology in a popular form. Perhaps simply changing the names of Hubbard, Scientology and the e-meter (among other things) was not a crude way of doing so, and a feature film was to0 easy a target for Scientology’s ‘dirty tricks department’.  However, it did not deserve to be supressed.