Released in 2012, Lockout was not a huge critical and commercial success. Above all, the film produced by Luc Besson had to go through the court box. The cause: an accusation of plagiarism launched by John Carpenter… for plagiarism of the film New York 1997!
Lock Out: a EuropaCorp production
Spotted by Luc Besson’s production company thanks to their SF short film entitled Prey AloneJames Mather and Stephen St. Leger are chosen to direct Lock Out. Indeed, the director duo is the most relevant choice to direct this science fiction feature film with Guy Pearce at the top of the bill. With a budget of 20 million dollars, the film will repay it timidly with 33 million at the worldwide box office. Above all, Lockout will be atomized by the critics.
The film takes place in 2079, in a future where men have definitely mastered the conquest of space. The story is set in MS One, a space prison where the world’s greatest criminals are held. During a visit by the daughter of the President of the United States, a violent mutiny breaks out. The prisoners then take control of the prison and take the young girl hostage. Given the magnitude of the case, the authorities therefore send Marion Snow, a former CIA agent.
Luc Besson sentenced by the courts
The synopsis of the feature film has some similarities with another film: New York 1997. Indeed, we also see a future in which the inmates of an experimental prison take a political figure hostage. Hence, this causes the authorities to send a soldier-turned-outcast to save the day. It was enough for its director John Carpenter takes Luc Besson and EuropaCorp to court.
Indeed, he had been informed by Canal+ (holder of the film rights) of the strange similarity between the two works. The director therefore decides to take the lead and attack Lock Out.
This is not the first time that Luc Besson has been accused of plagiarism. However, if he has always come out of it so far, it will not be the same for this feature film. Indeed, the tribunal de grande instance of Paris will condemn the director in 2015 for “characterized infringement”.
Thus, Besson will pay 80,000 euros in damages to the plaintiffs. EuropaCorp tried to appeal a year later but the request was dismissed and the sentence increased. He was therefore ordered to pay 465,000 euros. In response to this verdict, EuropaCorp will issue a terse statement:
The smallness of the condemnation shows that the courts ultimately retained only simple similarities in relation to the size of the sums requested by the plaintiffs. Nevertheless, as we have always said, we do not share the interpretation made by the courts, since we consider that the two works have nothing similar in their overall impression.
Serious consequences for EuropaCorp
Besides the fact that artistically, Luc Besson’s company will lose credibility, this case of plagiarism will cost him a lot of money. Faced with the sinking, the filmmaker will then bet on the feature film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Unfortunately, the film will also be a financial flop. which will definitely plunge EuropaCorp into crisis. The company was acquired on February 29, 2020 by the American investment fund Vine.