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