Filmmaker Luc Besson has been ordered to pay a huge fine in a plagiarism case over his 2012 sci-fi action movie ‘Lockout.’
A French court ruled last October that the film’s plot was so derivative of John Carpenter’s 1981 sci-fi hit ‘Escape From New York’ that it constituted plagiarism.
The initial ruling ordered studio EuropaCorp to pay €10,000 (just over £7,300) to director Carpenter, a further €20,000 to the writers (Carpenter and Nick Castle), and €50,000 to Studiocanal, the film’s current rights holders.
Besson (whose other writer-producer credits include the ‘Taken’ and ‘Transporter’ franchises) appealed the decision, but this did not work out in his favour, as he has now been ordered to pay a total of €450,000 in damages to Carpenter and Studiocanal.
‘Lockout’ starred Guy Pearce as a square-jawed, wise-cracking ex-secret agent, wrongfully convicted, who is offered his freedom in exchange for rescuing the President’s daughter, who has been taken hostage aboard a maximum security prison based in an orbiting space station.
By comparison, ‘Escape From New York’ stars Kurt Russell as disgraced war hero Snake Plissken, who is offered a pardon if he rescues the President himself from New York City, which has been refashioned as a maximum security prison.
Carpenter’s film has spawned more than its share of imitations, such as the Italian ‘Bronx Warriors’ movies, and 2007 British sci-fi action movie ‘Doomsday.’
The court ruling on ‘Lockout’ included “a detailed comparison of the plot and development of the films,” and determined that “the difference in the location of the action and the more modern character featured in ‘Lock-Out’ was not enough to differentiate the two films.“
A spokesman for Besson said they were “very surprised by the ruling but the judges have spoken and we will accept their judgment.”
While Besson has long been an esteemed director in his own right (credits including ‘Leon’ and ‘The Fifth Element’), he only co-wrote and produced ‘Lockout,’ handing directing duties to James Mather.
Picture Credit: Europacorp, Studiocanal