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When looking at the story of Lockout there are a few similarities to John Carpenter's Escape from New York, putting a badass convict onto an unwanted mission to rescue the president (or his daughter for that matter) from a future prison.

Now I see those similarities are largely superficial and only concern the story's concept on a very broad scale. But I remember that around the time of Lockout's release or a bit earlier there were some rumours about a remake of Escape from New York and this movie made me wonder if this might not even have been intended as that remake in the first place but was then reappropriated during its production. While the corresponding Wikipedia article says that said remake is still in development, it also suggests that it went through a significant deal of production bureaucracy and many different hands. So while I might just be imagining things here or drawing a connection where there isn't really one, asking can't hurt.

So, to which degree was the development of Lockout actually influenced by Escape from New York (if at all)? Is there any solid evidence or even secured information that it once started out as an actual remake but was later reappropriated? Were there any legal or bureaucratic intricacies involved? Or are the influences just on a less specific story-wise/artistic level? Or are those similarities entirely coincidental and I'm just grabbing some straw without reasonable basis?

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You are totally right in thinking that there are similarities between the two films. Lockout was very influenced by the Escape From movies and this was proven.

The director of the Escape From films, John Carpenter, saw Lockout and thought exactly the the same thing as you.

He didn't know about the film Lockout before it was released, and since you don't mess with the Master of Horror, he decided to sue Luc Besson and Europacorp, and he won.

The court ruling by the Observatoire Européen de l'Audiovisuel, 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 court held that the combination of these elements, which gave the film [Escape from New York] its particular appearance and originality, had been reproduced in ‘Lock-Out’, apart from certain scenes and specific details that were only present in the first film. The difference in the location of the action and the more modern character featured in ‘Lock-Out’ was not enough to differentiate the two films.

It is also interesting to note that John Carpenter and Kurt Russell have been discussing about a possible storyline in which Snake Plissken comes back and has to Escape from Earth (!). Which makes the Lockout movie feel even more like the Plissken universe…

This, alongside the fact that John Carpenter is a screenwriter for hire with many screenplays he didn't direct to his name, makes it kind of obvious why he would go and sue.

If you want to work with someone or use their ideas, always better to ask!

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