So if you spend enough time browsing the net and reading random news from random outlets, you probably caught wind of a lawsuit filed by John Carpenter, Nick Castle and Studio Canal. The lawsuit alleged that French filmmaker Luc Besson essentially ripped Carpenter and Castle off by utilizing the plot of their original film, Escape from New York as the core idea behind the 2012 action piece, Lockout.
When you watch Lockout, it does indeed seem a little familiar. And as a hardcore John Carpenter fan, it didn’t take too much memory excavation to recognize that the story bears an awful lot of similarities to Escape from New York.
In each film, wrongfully accused anti-heroes are basically forced to enter an uncontrolled warzone to retrieve the President’s daughter, who’s being held hostage by a large number of psychopaths. Should they succeed in their mission, a dystopian future government has agreed to reward the men with their freedom.
Just scanning that synopsis leaves one feeling as though these are mirrored pictures. The truth is, they’re not quite so mirrored. Lockout and Escape from New York feel like radically different movies to the layman. It’s the analytical mind that will begin drawing parallels between these two films. And, when you really put your thinking cap on and study the movies, it looks mighty obvious that Besson did most certainly freely “borrow” an awful lot of ideas from Carpenter’s 1981 fan favorite.
Apparently a French court found Carpenter, Castle and Studio Canal in the right, and declared Besson the true loser of the dreaded plagiarism case (for the record, plagiarism cases seldom turn out well for the plaintiffs or accusing parties) guilty of plagiarism.
What makes this case even more interesting is that last year a judge ruled against Besson and ordered him to pay $95,000. Besson wasn’t having that, and he and his legal representatives filed an appeal feeling they could skate the accusations altogether. It was an appeal that generated massive backlash.
Once more, the court sided with Carpenter and company, and that $95,000 Besson was ordered to pay up just shot through the roof. No longer is the fine south of $100,000 Besson’s failed bid at an appeal cost him a chunk of change in the ballpark of $500,000.
Should’ve paid that $95,000 and ventured off into the sunset. Now, Mr. Besson, you’re a half a million dollars broker… not that you’re anywhere near broke.
Both Escape from New York and Lockout are awesome movies. And both Snake Plissken and Snow are awesome leading men. These films are both enjoyable as all hell. The only major difference, aside from time and cast members, is one is an original idea, and the other, as we now know, isn’t. Shame on you, Luc Besson – you’re better than this!