In 2011, filmmaker Andrew Niccol released his new film: “Time Out”. Worn by Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, the feature film was accused of plagiarism by a Swiss comedian named Edwin…
Time Out : an anticipatory thriller by Andrew Niccol
Andrew Niccol is a screenwriter, director and producer from New Zealand. He is particularly famous for having staged the excellent Welcome to Gattaca and Lord of War. On the scenario side, it is the cult’s feather The Truman Show. In 2011, Andrew Niccol is writing the screenplay and directing Time Out, a thriller of anticipation worn by Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde and Cillian Murphy. Shortly after its release, the feature film, which takes the form of a breathless race against time in a future where time literally becomes money, was accused of plagiarism.
A Swiss actor stepped up to the plate
After the film was released in 2011, Swiss comedian Edwin explodes with rage. As he comes out of his cinema session, he discovers that Time Out is heavily based on a screenplay written between 2004 and 2006. Title Chronoshis story tells as in Time Out how, in the near future, human beings see the time they have left to live displayed on their arm. Everyone can save time working or collecting time from someone else simply by shaking hands.
Time has therefore become a bargaining chip, just like in Andrew Niccol’s film. According to Edwin, the American blockbuster even uses certain sequences from its screenplay identically, like the one where the hero saves time by winning at cards.
So how to explain that Andrew Niccol found himself in possession of Edwin’s screenplay? According to him, Edwin sent Chronos has a French producer: Philippe Rousselet. He knows Andrew Niccol well since he produced his previous film: Lord of War.
An investigation is therefore open. During the investigation, Philippe Rousselet’s assistance confirms that it was in possession of a script by Edwin and that she hand-delivered it to Andrew Niccol sometime in 2004. However, she does not recall the title or content of the story.
A case that goes to court
Edwin therefore decides to initiate legal proceedings and filed several lawsuits against the team of Time Out. He is bringing criminal proceedings against Andrew Niccol and Philippe Rousselet for witness tampering. It is an offense of obtaining a false statement or failure to testify. In civil law, he attacks Andrew Niccol and the producers of the film, New Regency and Strikeas well as the 20th Century Fox who distributes the film for unfair infringement and parasitism.
Andrew Niccol, of course, is defending himself against these charges. He claims that he worked on the script for Time Out as early as 2002, and even copyrighted his writing to the Writers Guild of America the same year. At the time, his story is called Time Killers. After computer expertise, the investigators discover a file called Time Killers treatment which existed in August 2003 on the New Zealand artist’s computer.
Finally, Andrew Niccol recalls that Time Out is not the first work to approach time from this angle. To justify himself, he claims that an episode of the comic strip Mandrake from 1968, that a short story by Lee Falk released in 1975 and that the medium-length The Price of Life by Stephen Tolkin (1987) all already dealt with this theme.
The outcome of the trial
Despite this defense, Edwin demanded the colossal sum of 7.95 million euros in damages. Unfortunately for him, his criminal request is dismissed. His civil claim was also rejected, first in 2014 by the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance, then in 2015 by the Court of Appeal. Edwin retracts and does not take the case to the Court of Cassation. Here is the return of the judges collected by BFM TV :
It is not possible to rule out the hypothesis that Andrew Niccol had knowledge of Edwin’s 2004 screenplay through Philippe Rousselet. There are commonalities between the scripts and the film relating to their theme and certain situations.
Nevertheless, the plot and the various adventures of the works are totally different, even if certain situations are found in both. The characters are also very different.
The idea that time is money has been developed and exploited in several works that predate the screenplays of Edwin and Andrew Niccol. Also, Edwin can’t…