The lawyers for sci-fi author Harlan Ellison must have a pretty nice gig, because he likes to sue. In fact, he likes it so much his Wikipedia page has a section dedicated to the various lawsuits he has filed over the years against everything from “The Terminator” to AOL. Well, Ellison is at it again and this time he has upcoming flick “In Time” in his sights.
Ellison has filed a suit against producers New Regency and director Andrew Niccol over the film, claiming that it rips off his acclaimed 1965 short story “Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktockman.” Terrible title aside, the book does in fact bear many similarities to his book. As you know, Niccol’s film starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, is set in a future world where time is currency and our two leads buck the system while on the run from that dude from “Mad Men” and Cillian Murphy, an enforcer of sorts called a Timekeeper. Well, Ellison’s book — which he says he optioned for development for a movie in 2010 — also contains the “Timekeeper” authority figure, is set in the future and also has a time-as-currency conceit. Moreover, Ellison wants the release of “In Time” halted and copies of the film destroyed. Yikes.
Will that happen? Doubtful. Copyright lawsuits are very difficult to win because the burden of proof is pretty damn high, and getting an injunction against a film’s release almost never happens. Now, was Ellison ripped off intentionally or not? Certainly the details are very similar and Niccol is a sci-fi nerd so it’s certainly possible.
Anyway, the timing of the lawsuit is no surprise — with just over a month until the movie’s release, 20th Century Fox will likely want to dispose of this pesky business quickly. So yeah, expect everybody to eventually settle out of court the way these things always go. And just in case “In Time” does come out and make money? Ellison wants a piece of the profits. [THR]