In Time

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In Time
Official film poster
Directed by Andrew Niccol
Produced by Andrew Niccol
Marc Abraham
Amy Israel
Kristel Laiblin
Eric Newman
Written by Andrew Niccol
Starring Amanda Seyfried
Justin Timberlake
Alex Pettyfer
Cillian Murphy
Music by Craig Armstrong
Cinematography Roger Deakins
Editing by Zach Staenberg
Studio Regency Enterprises
New Regency
Strike Entertainment
Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox
Release dates
  • October 28, 2011 (2011-10-28)
Running time 109 minutes [1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million[2]
Box office $173,930,596[3]

In Time (previously titled Now and I'm.mortal)[4] is a 2011 American dystopian science fiction action thriller film written, directed, and produced by Andrew Niccol and starring Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake. The film was released on October 28, 2011.


In 2169, people are born genetically engineered with a digital clock, bearing 1 year of time, on their forearm. When they turn 25, they stop aging, but their clock begins counting down; when it reaches zero, that person "times out" and dies instantly. Time on these clocks is the universal currency; by touching arms, one person can transfer it to another, or to/from a separate clock (a "time capsule"). The country is divided into "time zones" based on the wealth of its population. There are at least 19 time zones, the movie focuses on 2: Dayton, which is poor, and New Greenwich, the wealthiest zone. In Dayton, residents are constantly living minute to minute, doing whatever is necessary to live another day, and in New Greenwich the inhabitants barely, if ever, have to worry about their clocks running out. Many are constantly surrounded by bodyguards to protect them from anyone thinking of stealing any time.

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), a 28-year-old Dayton factory worker, lives with his mother Rachel (Olivia Wilde). While in a bar, he saves drunken and suicidal 105-year-old Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), a time-rich from New Greenwich, from an attempted robbery by Fortis (Alex Pettyfer), the boss of a gang called "Minute Men". Hamilton reveals to Will the truth about wealth: there is enough time for everyone to live a long life, but New Greenwich citizens take and store most of the time for themselves in order to live forever. In order to maintain the status quo, they continually increase the cost of living in poorer districts. Hamilton gives 116 years of his time to a sleeping Will with a message saying "don't waste my time." With 5 minutes remaining, Hamilton walks out onto a bridge where he dies and his body falls into the water. The police also known as Timekeepers, led by Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), sees Hamilton's clock and assumes that his time was stolen. They look at video footage and identify Will as a thief.

Will visits his best friend Borel (Johnny Galecki), an alcoholic, to whom he gives 10 years, but says goodbye, as he plans to live in New Greenwich with his mother. Meanwhile, Rachel must give all but 90 minutes of her time to pay her debts. When she boards the bus to get back home, she learns the fare has been raised to two hours. Since it's a 2-hour walk home, she is forced to run. When Will sees that Rachel is not on the scheduled bus, he deduces what has happened and begins to run to her. He attempts to save her, but a second before they can touch, she times out and dies in his arms.

Will leaves for New Greenwich and meets time-loaning businessman Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser), who possesses 1,000,000 years, and his 27-year-old daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried). While playing poker, Will bets all but 30 seconds of his time, but wins back the pot of 1,100 years. Sylvia invites him to a party in the Weis mansion. Soon after Will arrives, he is apprehended by Leon, who confiscates all but two hours of Will's time. Will escapes and takes Sylvia hostage. He returns to Dayton with her but runs into Fortis where they are both knocked unconscious. Fortis tries to take all of Sylvia's years, but leaves about half an hour. Will and Sylvia wake up and visit Borel to get back some time, but learn from Borel's wife that he died of an alcohol overdose. Sylvia pawns her diamond earrings to buy more time. Will calls Weis and demands a 1,000-year ransom for Sylvia. Sylvia's mother is willing to pay, but Weis isn't, stating that he didn't get to where he was by giving time away, and because it would mess up the system the wealthy had created if he gave time away and it went to people in the ghetto. A timekeeper traces the call, and Leon heads there, saying he knows the area.

When Leon comes to arrest Will, Sylvia shoots him and they escape in Leon's car. Will tells Sylvia to run away, but she refuses and helps him rob time banks, steal time capsules and redistribute them to the poor. The pair realize they would need a million years to cause any significant damage to the system, so they break into Weis's private vault and steal his million years. When Leon finds them, Will manages to pass the capsule to a young girl who distributes time to the people. Leon eventually catches up with Will and Sylvia outside the city, holding them at gunpoint but Leon has neglected to replenish his own time before going after them, and he dies. Will and Sylvia are left with mere seconds to live. Will runs to Leon's car and takes Leon's per diem time. Will then runs back to catch Sylvia, in a similar scene to that of his mother, but is able to catch her and gives her time.

Will and Sylvia continue robbing banks as part of their efforts to crash the system, while the rich attempt to cope with the sudden surge of people infiltrating their zone. Lower class workers, now rich with time, cross time zones, signifying the end of inequality. The last scene shows Will and Sylvia preparing to rob a huge time bank to further disrupt the system.



On July 12, 2010, it was reported that Amanda Seyfried had been offered a lead role.[5] On July 27, 2010, it was confirmed that Justin Timberlake had been offered a lead role.[6] On August 9, 2010, Cillian Murphy was confirmed to have joined the cast.[7]

The first photos from the set were revealed on October 28, 2010.[8] 20th Century Fox and New Regency distributed the film, and Marc Abraham and Eric Newman's Strike Entertainment produced it.[9]

In an interview with Kristopher Tapley of Roger Deakins stated that he would be shooting the film in digital, which makes this the first film to be shot in digital by the veteran cinematographer.[10]

The Dayton scenes were filmed primarily in the Skid Row and Boyle Heights neighborhoods of Los Angeles, while the New Greenwich scenes were filmed primarily in Century City, Bel Air, and Malibu. Despite the name of the "ghetto zone" suggesting Dayton, OH and the name of the "rich zone" suggesting Greenwich, CT, the maps used by the Timekeepers are maps of Los Angeles, CA. But the names "Dayton" and "Greenwich" both refer to time, and were more likely chosen for that reason than for any relation to present-day geography. Residents of "Dayton" live on about a days worth of time whereas residents of "Greenwich" enjoy living at the namesake of the source of all time zones.

Using the common device of Future-Retro, the production's vehicle suppliers assembled a prodigious fleet of cars and trucks from used car lots and junkyards. Although an ancient Citroen DS21 and Cadillac Seville feature, center stage goes to a fleet of seemingly immaculate Dodge Challengers and Lincoln Continentals. The rich drive around in the high gloss Lincolns, all of which have been smoothed, lowered and fitted with over-sized disc wheels on low profile rubber. The Dodges are the Time Keeper's cop cars. These too have been smoothed and externally customized, with grilles front and rear covering the lights, and low profile tires on disc wheels. In stark contrast to the Lincolns, paintwork is matte black. A slim police light-bar is fitted internally, behind the windshield. Externally this fleet may have looked immaculate but internally it was a different story. No money was spent on what would not be seen and many of the vehicles had wrecked interiors, with ripped seats, carpets and head-linings. Because the cars had been assembled from many sources and prepared to look identical, the interiors of most were of a color which did not match the black exteriors. The best of the Lincoln Continentals, for instance, whose interior is seen in the production, is trimmed out in blue.

The use of future retro is one of many elements that the film seems to share with Niccol's earlier work, Gattaca. The earlier work also features electrically-powered vintage cars (notably a Rover P6 and again, a Citroen DS), as well as buildings of indeterminate age. Gattaca also deals with innate inequalities (though in its case genetic, rather than longevity) and the film's protagonist also seeks to cross the divide that his birthright is supposed to deny him. Similarly, he is pursued by law enforcement officers after being wrongly identified as having committed a murder.

Copyright lawsuit[edit]

On September 15, 2011, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a suit was filed by attorneys on behalf of speculative fiction writer Harlan Ellison that the film's plot was based on his award-winning 1965 short story "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman". The suit, naming New Regency and director Andrew Niccol as well as a number of anonymous John Does, appears to base its claim on the similarity that both the completed film along with Ellison's story concern a dystopian future in which people have a set amount of time to live which can be revoked, given certain pertaining circumstances by a recognized authority known as a Timekeeper. Initially, the suit demanded an injunction against the film's release;[11] however, Ellison later altered his suit to instead ask for screen credit[12] before ultimately dropping the suit, with both sides releasing the following joint statement: "After seeing the film In Time, Harlan Ellison decided to voluntarily dismiss the Action. No payment or screen credit was promised or given to Harlan Ellison. The parties wish each other well, and have no further comment on the matter."[13]

Similar works[edit]

A very early instance of a storyline with time as currency occurs in "Mandrake and the Goldman", a Lee Falk comic issue based on the popular Mandrake the Magician character, and published in India in the year 1972.[14] It is possible that the original US publication of this comic happened before publication of the Harlan Ellison short story.

A short story entitled Time is Money, by Lee Falk (the creator of the comic strip Mandrake the Magician), appeared in the December 1975 issue of Playboy.[15] It portrays a society that includes many of the elements later used by In Time, a society in which time is the currency for its inhabitants and when someone runs out of time, he dies on the spot. It includes a timekeeper implanted in the body, time banks, transactions by handshakes, no aging, and social class differences according to accumulated time.

Many of the elements of In Time can be found in the 1987 short film The Price of Life,[16] which aired on PBS as part of their "American Playhouse" series.[17] The Price of Life was a 38-minute short film (story by Stephen Tolkin and Michel Monteaux) in which a time account is physically linked to every infant at birth, with death automatic when the balance drops to zero. An elite upper-class is portrayed as living hundreds of years or more. The protagonist is given a certain amount of time as an infant, and as young boy adds days and years to his time account by buying valuables from people and selling them to visiting tourists from the rich enclave. After his sister dies after gambling away her time, the protagonist (now a young man) sets out on a journey to the enclave of "the Old Ones" in order to save the life of his mother, who is (literally) running out of time. He gets there and meets a beautiful older woman who co-opts him into the immortal lifestyle.

A similar theme recurs in Hannu Rajaniemi's novel The Quantum Thief.[clarification needed] The concept of saving time as a tangible asset also occurs in Michael Ende's fantasy novel Momo.


The film received generally mixed reviews from critics; review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 36% of 152 critics gave the movie a positive review, with a rating average of 5.2 out of 10. The website's consensus reads, "In Time's intriguing premise and appealing cast are easily overpowered by the blunt, heavy-handed storytelling." [18] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 53 based on 36 reviews.[19] CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film was a "B-minus" on an A+ to F scale.[20] Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review with 3 stars out of 4, noting that the "premise is damnably intriguing", but "a great deal of this film has been assembled from standard elements".[21]

Box office performance[edit]

The film opened at #3, behind Puss in Boots and Paranormal Activity 3, with $12,050,368.[20] It earned $37,520,095 domestically and $136,410,501 overseas for a total of $173,930,596 worldwide, making it a success against its $40 million budget.[3]

Home media[edit]

In Time was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 31, 2012.[22]


  1. ^ "IN TIME (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  2. ^ Kaufman, Amy (October 27, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'Puss in Boots' to stomp on competition". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved October 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "In Time (2011)". Box Office Mojo. 2011-12-22. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  4. ^ Rich, Katey (2010-11-01). "I'm. mortal Retitled Now, Adds Alex Pettyfer And Matt Bomer To Cast". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  5. ^ Gallagher, Brian (2010-07-12). "Amanda Seyfried Signs on to I'm.mortal". Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  6. ^ Douglas, Edward (2010-07-27). "Justin Timberlake Leading I'm.mortal?". Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  7. ^ Gallagher, Brian (2010-08-09). "Cillian Murphy to Star in I'm.mortal". Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  8. ^ "Timberlake and Seyfried Spotted Filming Their New Thriller". 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  9. ^ Sneider, Jeff (2010-08-09). "Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy in Talks to Join 'I'm.mortal". Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  10. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (2010-12-22). "TECH SUPPORT INTERVIEW: ‘True Grit’ cinematographer Roger Deakins". Retrieved 2010-12-30. 
  11. ^ Gardner, Eriq. "Harlan Ellison Sues Claiming Fox's 'In Time' Rips Off Sci-Fi Story (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. September 15, 2011
  12. ^ Ellison wants ‘In Time’ concessions — only asks for credit?
  13. ^ "Ellison drops lawsuit after watching In Time". 1 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Mandrake Titles". 
  15. ^ "Mandrake The Magician: Time Is Money Short Story by Lee Falk". 2009-02-24. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  16. ^ The Price of Life at Vimeo
  17. ^ Bryan, Steven (2011-10-25). "Does 'In Time' Owe a Debt to 'American Playhouse's' 'The Price of Life'? - Yahoo! Movies". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  18. ^ "In Time (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  19. ^ "In Time Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b Finke, Nikki (October 30, 2011). "Snow Ices Box Office: ‘Puss In Boots’ #1, ‘Paranormal’ #2, ‘In Time’ #3, ‘Rum Diary’ #4". PMC. Retrieved October 30, 2011. 
  21. ^ "In Time". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  22. ^ Whitman, Howard. "Blu-ray Movie Review: In Time". Technology Tell. Retrieved 4/2/2012. 

External links[edit]