‘In Time’ In Trouble – Author Harlan Ellison Sues to Stop the Film’s Release in October

Harlan Ellison, author of Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman, claims that the New Regency’s Justin Timberlake starrer In Time is far to similar to his book and looks to block the film from coming out next month on October 28th. Why does he care? Well he’s already sold the rights and had a screenplay written that is about to be shopped around to studios. Of course with In Time already out there he feels that it will damage the value and marketability of the script. He also notes that many film critics have seen the connection between the two and have gone as far as saying the film In Time is actually based off of Ellison’s material. They are of course incorrect as far as New Regency is probably concerned, but are they otherwise? Check out why he thinks they copied his work below and let us know if you agree with him, and don’t worry, luckily for us no spoilers were stolen. Here are a few segments from the court filing that list the similarities between the two:

The similarity between In Time and Repent, Harlequin! is obvious and, indeed, widely noted by critics who have seen advanced screenings. For example, Richard Roeper states in his Fall Movie Preview that “In Time is based on a brilliant story by the great Harlan Ellison…” Similarly, the E-Street preview states that In Time is “[b]ased on the Harlan Ellison story ‘Repent, Harlequin, said the Ticktockman…'”

In Time copies key plot elements, themes, characters, events, sequences and settings of Repent, Harlequin!, including without limitation, the following:

Repent, Harlequin! takes place in a dystopian corporate future in which everyone is allotted a specific amount of time to live. The precise amount of time each person has left to live is known, tracked on a time card, and subject to monitoring by a government authority known as the “Master Timekeeper”. In Time also takes place in a dystopian corporate future in which everyone is allotted a specific amount of time to live. The precise amount of time each person has left to live is known, tracked on a luminescent clock displayed on the arm, and subject to monitoring by a government authority known as the “Senior Timekeeper.”

In Repent, Harlequin!, the amount of time an individual has left to live may be manipulated, and breaking the rules of society results in the deduction of time from the perpetrator’s life. For example, tardiness to work results in revocation of a commensurate amount of time from one’s life. Similarly, in In Time, the amount of time one has left to live may be manipulated, and violation are punished by deducting time from the perpetrator’s life, such as for tardiness to work or failure to meet one’s quota.

In Repent, Harlequin!, when one’s allotted time to live has expired, instant death occurs by stoppage of the heart. This is precisely what happens to In Time characters, as well.

In Repent, Harlequin!, the constant threat of advancing the time of one’s death by time revocation is the system used to force conformity with a highly regimented and oppressive society in which the masses are forced to adhere to a strict time schedule in their daily lives as they serve their corporate masters. Similarly, in In Time, the constant threat is imminent death by running out of one’s allotted time is the system used to force conformity with a highly regimented and oppressive society in which the masses live short, brutish lives of poverty in service to the wealthy corporate elite.

The protagonist in Repent, Harlequin! rebels against the system in the hopes of destroying it and restoring freedom to the masses. He becomes an outlaw and a hero of the people by sabotaging the system in ways that disrupt the strict schedule and encourages people to enjoy their time. The protagonist in In Time also rebels against the system in the hopes of destroying it. He becomes an outlaw and hero of the people by sabotaging the strict time distribution system by giving others more time to live.

In Repent, Harlequin!, the protagonist’s acts of defiance present a threat to the system of strict schedule control enforced by the Master Timekeeper and his staff, who monitor infractions from a central command post. The Master Timekeeper and his staff proceed to hunt down the protagonist, at first using wanted posters and eventually by resorting to informants and torture. Similarly, in In Time, the protagonist’s acts of defiance present a threat to the system of strict time distribution control enforced by the Senior Timekeeper and his staff, who monitor infractions from a central command post. The Senior Timekeeper and his staff proceed to hunt down the protagonist, at first using electronic wanted posters and eventually employing a street gang that uses intimidation, torture and murder.

3 thoughts on “‘In Time’ In Trouble – Author Harlan Ellison Sues to Stop the Film’s Release in October

  1. I remember an older version of this same premise. It seemed like a hitchcock film though I havn’t found it yet. If anyone knows let me know thanks. sbgladu at yahoo

  2. seems the court filing list of similarities plays a bit fast and loose with the specifics in the “Repent” text.

    some of those aspects are just not in the ellison short as offered.

    soon the studio and production contracts may leave the writers alone liable for such transgressions.

    gotta wonder where the malice and immoral intent lies here.

    here’s to justice being done.

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