Science fiction legend Harlan Ellison is attempting to kill a high-profile movie
that is scheduled to come out in theaters next month. The Hugo award-winning
writer has filed a lawsuit against New Regency and director Andrew Niccol over
20th Century Fox's film, In Time, starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried
and Cillian Murphy. He is demanding an injunction to prevent the film's October
28 release and the disposal of all copies of the film.
Ellison filed his lawsuit on Wednesday in California federal court with
allegations of copyright infringement on the part of the producers of In Time,
including Niccol, who is renowned for his sci-fi films including The Truman
Show, Gattaca, and S1mOne.
Copyright lawsuits in Hollywood are certainly plentiful, but rarely successful
because plaintiffs typically struggle to meet the high burden of showing
substantial similarity. Will Ellison's case be any different?
Ellison says the new film is based on his multiple prize-winning 1965 work,
"Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktockman" which the complaint calls one of the
most famous and widely published science fiction short stories of all time.
For years, according to Ellison, he has resisted producer interest in adapting
this story into film, but in late 2010, Ellison's company, The Kilimanjaro
Corporation, entered into an agreement with a third party to create a screenplay
based on the story so that it could be sold or licensed to a Hollywood studio.
Now, Ellison says that In Time jeopardizes an official film adaptation of
Ellison says the similarity between the two works is "obvious" and quotes
critics such as Richard Roeper who have attended advanced screenings and seem to
believe that In Time is based on "Repent Harlequin!"
Both works are said to take place in a "dystopian corporate future in which
everyone is allotted a specific amount of time to live." In both works,
government authorities known as a "Timekeeper" track the precise amount of time
each citizen has left.
The lawsuit names Regency, Niccol, and John Does as defendants. Fox isn't
explicitly named, but the prayer for relief includes a demand that the
distributor be subject to an injunction.
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