(For other uses, see Profit (disambiguation).) The Profit is a feature film written and directed by Peter N. Alexander. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France in 2001. Distribution of the film was prohibited by an American court order which was a result of a lawsuit brought by the Church of Scientology, although the filmmaker says that the film is not about Scientology. As a result, The Disinformation Book Of Lists and The Times have characterized The Profit as a banned film in the United States. The film was described by its producers as a work of fiction, meant to educate the public about cults and con men. It was widely seen as a parody of the Church of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. The main character L. Conrad Powers leads an organization called the "Church of Scientific Spiritualism", and many elements about both the Church and Powers' life portrayed in the film, have been compared to Scientology and Hubbard. The film was mainly produced and shot in the Tampa Bay Area, and the cast included actors from the area and cameos from a few Scientology critics. The Church of Scientology did not think favorably of the piece. Representatives from a Scientology affiliated group, the Foundation for Religious Tolerance of Florida came to protest against the film, and the film's producers asserted that they were harassed by Scientologists. Initially, representatives of the Church stated the film had no resemblance to Scientology, but later the Church initiated litigation to block the film's distribution. As a result of a 2002 court order from the Lisa McPherson case, a Pinellas County judge blocked further distribution of the film in the United States. According to the film's attorney the injunction was lifted in 2007, but distribution was blocked due to a conflict with one of the producers, Bob Minton. The film generally did not receive positive reviews from local press, and reviews in the St. Petersburg Times criticized over-the-top acting, and noted that the director should have instead produced a non-fiction documentary piece if he wanted to educate others about cults.
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