×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

John Carpenter Wins Second Round of Plagiarism Case vs. Luc Besson Over ‘Lockout’

ROME — A Paris appeals court on Friday found French director-producer Luc Besson guilty of plagiarizing John Carpenter’s 1981 cult classic “Escape from New York” with the 2012 space-set movie “Lockout.”

The court ordered his EuropaCorp production company to pay  450,000 Euros ($502,000) in damages to the U.S. horror helmer, according to a report on French news service BFMTV.

Besson, who is France’s most international director and recently drew applause at Comic-Con with footage of his big-budget sci-fier “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” had denied the charge. The suit was brought by Carpenter and his “Escape” co-writer Nick Castle in 2014.

Besson did not direct “Lockout.” He co-wrote it with Stephen Saint Leger and James Mather, who co-directed it. His EuropaCorp produced the film at the center of the plagiarism suit.

There was no comment from EuropaCorp on Friday.

The court ruled that “Lockout” had “massively borrowed key elements” of “Escape,” according to BFMTV.

“Lockout” stars Guy Pearce as a former CIA Agent wrongly convicted of murder who is offered freedom if he can free the U.S. president’s daughter from an outer-space Alacatraz where an uprising has occurred. It was widely considered a shameless ripoff of “Escape” when it was released in 2012.

In “Escape,” the island of Manhattan is a giant penitentiary where inmates have taken over. Kurt Russell plays a government agent-turned-convict who has to go in and rescue the U.S. president

“The setup is basically ‘Escape From New York’ in space,” wrote Variety critic Justin Chang in his “Lockout” review.

The 2014 suit brought by Carpenter and French studio StudioCanal had prompted a first favorable ruling in May of 2015 when the court sentenced EuropaCorp to pay $22,800 to Carpenter, $11,400 to Nick Castle and $57,000 to Studiocanal, which holds rights to “Escape.”

In an analysis of the court’s finding by Amelie Blocman published by the European Audiovisual Observatory and widely referenced in the French press at the time, the court “noted many similarities between the two science-fiction films: Both presented an athletic, rebellious and cynical hero, sentenced to a period of isolated incarceration – despite his heroic past – who is given the offer of setting out to free the President of the United States or his daughter held hostage in exchange for his freedom.”

Among other similarities: the hero “manages, undetected, to get inside the place where the hostage is being held, after a flight in a glider/space shuttle, and finds there a former associate who dies; he pulls off the mission in extremis, and at the end of the film keeps the secret documents recovered in the course of the mission.”

The combination of these elements was sufficient to constitute copyright infringement, the Paris court had ruled in 2015.

In Friday’s appeals ruling, the court increased the damages. Carpenter and Studiocanal in the suit had demanded $2.4 million.

EuropaCorp is now expected to pay up, according to an inside source.

Distributed by Film District, “Lockout” grossed $14.3 million in the U.S. and $32.2 million worldwide.

More Film

  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw A Wrinkle in Time

    Racing Green Pictures to Launch With Gugu Mbatha-Raw Historical Drama 'Seacole' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Producer Billy Peterson has formed a new production company, Racing Green Pictures, and announced production on “Seacole,” his first feature with the banner. The film will star Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Belle”) and Sam Worthington (“Avatar”). It centers on a Mary Seacole, a pioneering Jamaican nurse who cared for wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War and [...]

  • The Other Story

    Film Review: 'The Other Story'

    Family disputes and conspiracies take center stage in “The Other Story,” veteran helmer Avi Nesher’s lively drama exploring a hot button issue: the divide between Israel’s secular Jews and the ultra-Orthodox. The fluid narrative plays out against the backdrop of a Jerusalem riven by multiple conflicts as two dysfunctional families separately arrive at an understanding [...]

  • George Clooney

    George Clooney to Direct, Star in 'Good Morning, Midnight' Adaptation for Netflix

    George Clooney has signed on to direct and star in a feature film adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel “Good Morning, Midnight” for Netflix. Mark L. Smith will adapt the screenplay from the sci-fi thriller, which was named one of the best books of 2017 by the Chicago Review of Books. The post-apocalyptic tale follows the [...]

  • Elton John'Lion King' Film Premiere and

    With New 'Lion King' Tune, Elton John May Compete Against Self for Song Oscar

    Elton John is going to face some stiff competition in this year’s Oscars race: Elton John. He’ll have two tunes in competition for the Academy Award for best original song this year. The just announced track listing for the “Lion King” soundtrack reveals he and lyricist Tim Rice did write a new end-titles number for [...]

  • Constance WuInStyle Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles,

    Constance Wu to Star in 'Goodbye, Vitamin' Adaptation for Universal (EXCLUSIVE)

    Universal Pictures has optioned the rights to “Goodbye, Vitamin,” the 2017 debut novel from Rachel Khong, with Constance Wu attached to star, sources tell Variety. Dylan Clark will produce for his Universal-based Dylan Clark Productions with Jennifer Yee McDevitt adapting the novel. Wu will also executive produce. “Goodbye, Vitamin” follows Wu’s character, Ruth Young, who [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Headshot

    Warner Bros. Taps BBC Studios Americas Chief Ann Sarnoff as CEO (EXCLUSIVE)

    Warner Bros. has tapped BBC Studios Americas president Ann Sarnoff as its new CEO, a surprise pick that is sure to shake up the venerable studio. Sarnoff becomes the first woman to head Warner Bros. in its nearly 100-year history. She was under the radar during WarnerMedia’s search for a successor to lead the studio [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content