When the 2012 film Lockout appeared in theaters, more than one critic pointed out that it shared a number of similarities with John Carpenter’s 1981 film Escape from New York. A court in Paris agreed, stating that it "massively borrowed key elements," and ordered screenwriter Luc Besson to pay €465,000 in restitution.
Lockout was directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, based on a story by Luc Besson. It followed a wrongly accused inmate named Snow (Guy Pearce) who was offered a pardon if he would rescue the president’s daughter (Maggie Grace), who was being held captive after a prison riot in an orbital prison.
Carpenter alleged that 'Lockout' followed his own too closely
Carpenter alleged that the film followed his own too closely, and he sued EuropaCorp, St. Leger, Mather, and Besson in a French court for €2.2 million in damages. He won his initial case last year, with the court citing that many elements in Lockout had indeed copied. It ordered EuropaCorp to pay out a total of €80,000 in damages to Carpenter, Nick Castle (the screenwriter for Escape from New York), and Metro-Goldyn-Mayer.
Besson appealed the ruling, denying that any copying had taken place, and that the lawsuit was "a hindrance to artistic freedom." The French appeals court disagreed, and quintupled the original amount Besson would have to pay to Carpenter.
Through a spokesperson, Besson noted that they were "very surprised by the ruling but the judges have spoken and we will accept their judgment." His next film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, is slated for release next year.