Writer sues over 'plagiarism' in Justin Timberlake thriller In Time

Screenwriter claims he came up with the idea for the film in 1996

A Greek writer is suing the makers of sci-fi thriller In Time, which starred Justin Timberlake, accusing them of stealing his idea.

Odysseus Lappas is demanding $4.5 million (£2.8 million) from 20th Century Fox and New Regency according to papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The film was released in 2011 and stars pop star and actor Justin Timberlake alongside Mamma Mia and Mean Girls actress Amanda Seyfried. Set in a future world where humans stop ageing when they are aged 25, time becomes a currency that characters must buy, borrow or steal from other people in order to save themselves from dying.

According to the legal papers, Lappas formulated an "uncannily similar" synopsis in August 1996, which was "subsequently registered with the Writers Guild of America".

Lappas, who is from Athens, claims to have met a reader for 20th Century Fox in October 1996, describing his idea. After negotiations, the representative allegedly offered him $80,000 (£49,733) for the rights to the synopsis.

After the writer refused the payment because he wanted to either write or produce any depictions of his synopsis, Lappas said the two parties entered into an "implied-in-fact contract", suggesting he would be compensated if his story was used.

According to his legal case, the story he put forward was "an action-adventure love story about a man and a woman who live in a future world wherein the human life span had changed and people would die after reaching their 25th birthday".

Around 15 years later, Timberlake appeared in the motion picture reportedly formed around Lappas's vision. The film made $173 million (107.5 million) worldwide, and was credited to screenwriter and director Andrew Niccol, who has enjoyed success with The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey.

Neither Fox nor New Regency have made a comment on the legal case.

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