Harlan Ellison has decided that he doesn’t want to take credit for In Time, the recent sci-fi film starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. In September, the legendary author sued New Regency and director Andrew Niccol over the 20th Century Fox-distributed film, alleging it was a copyright infringement of his multiple prize-winning 1965 work, “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman.” But Ellison had second thoughts and has decided to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice.
Ellison’s attorney wasn’t available for comment about why the author decided to back off of claims that both In Time and his own story told the same tale about a “dystopian corporate future in which everyone is allotted a specific amount of time to live.”
But according to a stipulation filed in court on Monday, the decision came after the plaintiff had a chance to see the film.
It’s conceivable that he wasn’t very impressed. The film garnered a low 38 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and grosses just $35 million in the U.S. (though it has done better overseas, grossing about $70 million).
Ellison has a history of suing, and his legal track record suggests that he has no qualms about about going to the mat to demand payment for use of his high-concept ideas. But typically, his claims have been reserved for TV shows and films that have been well received. For example, he’s battled Paramount over one of the most acclaimed episodes in Star Trek history, “The City on the Edge of Forever,” which he penned. He also pursued, and eventually got an acknowledgment credit on The Terminator, saying it was based on two Outer Limits episodes he wrote.
As part of the agreement to dismiss his lawsuit, Ellison has also agreed that each party will bear its own attorney fees.