Published Oct 15, 2015As one Escape from New York-minded empire is being built, another begins to crumble. John Carpenter has just won his plagiarism lawsuit against the makers of Snake Plissken plot-biting 2012 action flick, Lockout.
As The Playlist reports, a French court has ruled that EuropaCorp and Lockout writers — Stephen St. Leger, James Mather and Luc Besson — were guilty of lifting plot elements from Carpenter's 1981 flick, Escape from New York. Directed by St. Leger and Mather, the film starred Guy Pearce an ex-con trying to rescue the president's daughter from a space prison.
Despite its interstellar setting, this apparently hedged too closely towards Carpenter's flick, which found Kurt Russell (as "Snake") trying to save the president from a post-apocalyptic, prison system-styled Manhattan. Even in our review, we wrote this of Lockout: It's Escape from New York in space, liberally borrowing the plot of the clumsy L.A.
The French court noted that the pacing differed between Lockout and Escape from New York (released as New York 1997 in Europe), but it chalked this up to 30 years of filmmaking changing the visual landscape. It wasn't as forgiving when it came to the plot points.
The ruling stated:
The court nevertheless 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; he 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 defendants were ordered to pay Carpenter 20,000 euros, co-scripter Nick Castle 10,000 euros to the screenwriter, and 50,000 euros to the rights-holders of Escape from New York. You can read more details about the ruling here.
As for the forthcoming, completely Carpenter-backed remake, it was recently revealed that Luther creator Neil Cross will be delivering a screenplay. A due date for the release has not yet been delivered.