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Sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison suing to stop the release of In Time

09.16.2011

Looking forward to seeing Justin Timberlake's first attempt to play the action hero in this October's IN TIME? You might have to wait a little bit longer. Legendary sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison has filed suit against production company New Regency and writer/director Andrew Niccol claiming the film rips off his short story "Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman" originally published in 1965.

Ellison and his company are asking that the October 28th release date be blocked while a court attempts rules on the matter.

But do they have a case? Both properties take place in a future where time is regulated by a government authority (in the book it's "Master Timekeeper" and in the movie it's "Senior Timekeeper"). Both feature scenarios where humans are punished for misdeeds (like showing up late) by having time revoked from their life. Both involve instant death via heart stoppage when your time runs out. Both feature heroes who rebel against the system and are hunted by the Timekeeper and his staff, eventually leading to torture.

I'm no Judge Judy but so far the case doesn't look good for IN TIME and Niccol. It's clear that, at the very least, IN TIME was inspired by the work of Ellison. But what will it mean for IN TIME and its release date? Probably not much. Previously Ellison brought suit against THE TERMINATOR, a case which was settled out of court and resulted in an acknowledgement to his works in the credits. (James Cameron famous disputed any copright claims calling Ellison, "a parasite who can kiss my ass.")

While Ellison does have a reputation for being abrasive and litigious, his suit could provide enough headaches for Fox that, like Orion Pictures did with THE TERMINATOR, could result in some hush money to keep IN TIME on time for an October 28th release.

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Source: Deadline

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11:42AM on 09/16/2011
Sounds like someone needs to toss that troll down a well and wish that the well is empty. Interesting how terminator was almost blocked by this same guy.
Sounds like someone needs to toss that troll down a well and wish that the well is empty. Interesting how terminator was almost blocked by this same guy.
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11:42AM on 09/16/2011
After reading up on the guy, Id say hes such an ass he makes Alan Moore look friendly
After reading up on the guy, Id say hes such an ass he makes Alan Moore look friendly
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11:57AM on 09/16/2011
Looks like the man was ripped off and deserves compensation. How could anyone disagree with that? It's pretty damn clear.
Looks like the man was ripped off and deserves compensation. How could anyone disagree with that? It's pretty damn clear.
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1:02PM on 09/16/2011
"In Time" is actually a riff on Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. And that nigga's public domain, bitches.
"In Time" is actually a riff on Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. And that nigga's public domain, bitches.
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2:11PM on 09/16/2011
Timberlake is given an extraordinary gift by a stranger, which propels him into the upper class of society; he's able to pose as a rich man. But JT is relentlessly pursued by a lawman Cillian Murphy who suspects Timberbuns may not be who he says he is. To say more would be spoilers. But J-Tim is Jean Valjean and Murphy is Javert.
Timberlake is given an extraordinary gift by a stranger, which propels him into the upper class of society; he's able to pose as a rich man. But JT is relentlessly pursued by a lawman Cillian Murphy who suspects Timberbuns may not be who he says he is. To say more would be spoilers. But J-Tim is Jean Valjean and Murphy is Javert.
1:57PM on 09/16/2011
"Riff" on Les Misérables? In what sense?
"Riff" on Les Misérables? In what sense?
-13
1:43PM on 09/16/2011

good, cause

the movie looks like shit.

Interesting concept but for an action movie the action doesn't seem to be present, or at least what's there seems terribly uninteresting. Pass.

Hopefully it gets stopped so another another movie has a chance at being in the theatre instead... a movie that looks good.
the movie looks like shit.

Interesting concept but for an action movie the action doesn't seem to be present, or at least what's there seems terribly uninteresting. Pass.

Hopefully it gets stopped so another another movie has a chance at being in the theatre instead... a movie that looks good.
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2:18PM on 09/16/2011
Hey the best part is that the guy was born in 1934. He is going to die soon so fuck him.
Hey the best part is that the guy was born in 1934. He is going to die soon so fuck him.
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+5
3:08PM on 09/16/2011
Pay the man and don't push back the release. I'm actually looking forward to this movie. The premise is very interesting. Also, Gattaca didn't have any action but is one of the most underated sci-fi films. I loved Gattaca so I have faith this will at least be entertaining.
Pay the man and don't push back the release. I'm actually looking forward to this movie. The premise is very interesting. Also, Gattaca didn't have any action but is one of the most underated sci-fi films. I loved Gattaca so I have faith this will at least be entertaining.
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3:33PM on 09/16/2011

HA!

Oh Harlan, always quick to the trigger in filing frivolous lawsuits. I could care less if this generic piece of shit comes out or not, I just like hearing stories about Ellison's legendary brass ball antics.
Oh Harlan, always quick to the trigger in filing frivolous lawsuits. I could care less if this generic piece of shit comes out or not, I just like hearing stories about Ellison's legendary brass ball antics.
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+6
3:44PM on 09/16/2011

Harlan is unique

I happen to be a fellow writer and sometime correspondent with Mr. Ellison and all I can tell you is that his ideas get stolen, co-opted, borrowed, tweaked, and twisted by Hollywood hacks all the time. Now, mind you, Andrew Niccol is anything but a hack. In the world of science fiction screenwriting he is one of the brightest stars we have. But Mr. Ellison is, simply put, the Lewis Carroll of the 20th Century. Andrew was certainly inspired by Harlan's work(as we all were)and I doubt he'd tell
I happen to be a fellow writer and sometime correspondent with Mr. Ellison and all I can tell you is that his ideas get stolen, co-opted, borrowed, tweaked, and twisted by Hollywood hacks all the time. Now, mind you, Andrew Niccol is anything but a hack. In the world of science fiction screenwriting he is one of the brightest stars we have. But Mr. Ellison is, simply put, the Lewis Carroll of the 20th Century. Andrew was certainly inspired by Harlan's work(as we all were)and I doubt he'd tell you differently. "Repent Harlequin! said the Ticktockman" is one of his most popular stories and if you haven't had the chance to yet, I suggest you go out and read it--it's a very short work(as was the piece that inspired The Terminator). I dare say Harlan has more grounds to sue here than he had with Cameron. This will work itself out. I assure you Harlan is not a parasite, just a man who sees his fingerprints all over modern sci-fi cinema & television and wonders why he's getting no credit. Hollywood is full of parasites--far more than the literary world could create. Don't judge Ellison or Niccol or anyone else. Credit will be given and wheels will be greased and Justin Timberlake will get that starring role he so richly deserves(sarcasm). It will all come to fruition 'in time'.
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5:16PM on 09/16/2011
The problem with Harlan is he's a giant in the realm of SF and literature, but virtually unknown in the mainstream since he never crafted any full length novels or properties of note. And when all your contemporaries have entire libraries of works and adaptations to point to as their legacies while all you have to show for yourself is a bunch of shorts stories and sporadic TV episodes, that's gonna piss off even the mildest of writers. But when you're one this centuries most contentious
The problem with Harlan is he's a giant in the realm of SF and literature, but virtually unknown in the mainstream since he never crafted any full length novels or properties of note. And when all your contemporaries have entire libraries of works and adaptations to point to as their legacies while all you have to show for yourself is a bunch of shorts stories and sporadic TV episodes, that's gonna piss off even the mildest of writers. But when you're one this centuries most contentious characters, the smallest of slights will send you over the edge.
3:44PM on 09/16/2011
When I saw the trailer, I tought the movie was based on that short story. It seems very similar.
When I saw the trailer, I tought the movie was based on that short story. It seems very similar.
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+6
3:45PM on 09/16/2011
What cracks me up is that I'd wager more than 90% of the commenters below me have never read any of Ellison's work. If they did, they'd realize that the guy doesn't just sue anybody and everybody (like George Lucas does). He only sues those that rip off his work (like James Cameron gloated about doing on the set of Terminator (one of the reasons why he lost the lawsuit)). Is Ellison an asshole? Yeah. But you would be too if some snot-nosed little shit tried stealing the work that you're known
What cracks me up is that I'd wager more than 90% of the commenters below me have never read any of Ellison's work. If they did, they'd realize that the guy doesn't just sue anybody and everybody (like George Lucas does). He only sues those that rip off his work (like James Cameron gloated about doing on the set of Terminator (one of the reasons why he lost the lawsuit)). Is Ellison an asshole? Yeah. But you would be too if some snot-nosed little shit tried stealing the work that you're known for AND try taking credit for it.
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4:47PM on 09/16/2011
Actually, he's been known to sue people over libel and defamation of character which is ironic considering he's an inveterate shit talker. Not to mention the various writers he sued that attempted to publish their stories he tied up in the never released Dangerous Visions 3, or the fansites that tried to post exerts of his short stories.
Actually, he's been known to sue people over libel and defamation of character which is ironic considering he's an inveterate shit talker. Not to mention the various writers he sued that attempted to publish their stories he tied up in the never released Dangerous Visions 3, or the fansites that tried to post exerts of his short stories.
4:50PM on 09/16/2011
Eh... Immediately after seeing this article I pulled my giant Harlan Ellison compendium off the shelf and read the story in question. Granted, I haven't seen the film yet, but based on the trailers I don't think he has much of a case. Yes, the premise is the same, but the story itself looks extremely different. I'll be curious to see how this case develops... On a similar note, does anyone here remember the issues surrounding 'The Village' and a picture book Shyamalan might have stolen from?
Eh... Immediately after seeing this article I pulled my giant Harlan Ellison compendium off the shelf and read the story in question. Granted, I haven't seen the film yet, but based on the trailers I don't think he has much of a case. Yes, the premise is the same, but the story itself looks extremely different. I'll be curious to see how this case develops... On a similar note, does anyone here remember the issues surrounding 'The Village' and a picture book Shyamalan might have stolen from? Ah, good times...
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+4
5:27PM on 09/16/2011
Going purely on what this article has said, the similarities between Ellison's story and In Time are painfully generic. I can imagine ANY such story would have an evil ruler called the Timekeeper, and people being punished for time related misdeeds, and of COURSE there's going to be a rebel who turns out to be the hero. Every single one of those similarities is generic beyond belief, and should be public domain.
Going purely on what this article has said, the similarities between Ellison's story and In Time are painfully generic. I can imagine ANY such story would have an evil ruler called the Timekeeper, and people being punished for time related misdeeds, and of COURSE there's going to be a rebel who turns out to be the hero. Every single one of those similarities is generic beyond belief, and should be public domain.
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+1
6:06PM on 09/16/2011
Harlan Ellison is a bag of dicks. He's said in interviews that he will sue anyone behind a story that even remotely resembles his.

My screenwriting teacher used to say this: Ideas aren't worth shit. Ideas are free, easy, and infinite. It's quality of execution of said idea that is unique.

He's nasty, and is quoted as saying that no modern writers are worth a damn. This from a guy with ONLY short stories and TV shows to his credit.

Even fucked with the Penny-Arcade guys: [link]
Harlan Ellison is a bag of dicks. He's said in interviews that he will sue anyone behind a story that even remotely resembles his.

My screenwriting teacher used to say this: Ideas aren't worth shit. Ideas are free, easy, and infinite. It's quality of execution of said idea that is unique.

He's nasty, and is quoted as saying that no modern writers are worth a damn. This from a guy with ONLY short stories and TV shows to his credit.

Even fucked with the Penny-Arcade guys: [link]
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6:39PM on 09/16/2011

Why do they do this???

This shit is so stupid. You know how many screenplays, and story's i wrote that got ripped off too. Countless don't see me bitchin and wanting to sue everything borrows from something.
This shit is so stupid. You know how many screenplays, and story's i wrote that got ripped off too. Countless don't see me bitchin and wanting to sue everything borrows from something.
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11:44AM on 09/17/2011
To rip you off, the people concerned need to have read your stories. I doubt they did. It's just a case of same idea at the same time. But when it comes to this news, it's different. Niccol may or may not have read Ellison's stories, cause you know, he's been publish, he's a well-known writer and his books are good sellers.
To rip you off, the people concerned need to have read your stories. I doubt they did. It's just a case of same idea at the same time. But when it comes to this news, it's different. Niccol may or may not have read Ellison's stories, cause you know, he's been publish, he's a well-known writer and his books are good sellers.
8:49PM on 09/16/2011
Harlan is the man. He also doesn't make up things like this out of the blue, so if he's taking legal action, there's obviously something going on. He has enough recognition, awards and money that he doesn't need to lie about things like this. Team Ellison all the way.
Harlan is the man. He also doesn't make up things like this out of the blue, so if he's taking legal action, there's obviously something going on. He has enough recognition, awards and money that he doesn't need to lie about things like this. Team Ellison all the way.
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+0
9:22PM on 09/16/2011
It's so hard to prove these things and while it's possible Niccol drew inspiration, I doubt it'll block its release. When was the last movie to get a postponed release from lawsuits like this?? I will say, however, In Time may benefit from a different opening weekend then, say, Halloween weekend....
It's so hard to prove these things and while it's possible Niccol drew inspiration, I doubt it'll block its release. When was the last movie to get a postponed release from lawsuits like this?? I will say, however, In Time may benefit from a different opening weekend then, say, Halloween weekend....
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