In Time

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In Time
In Time poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAndrew Niccol
Written byAndrew Niccol
Produced by
CinematographyRoger Deakins
Edited byZach Staenberg
Music byCraig Armstrong
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
Running time
109 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million[4]
Box office$174 million[5]

In Time is a 2011 American science fiction action film written, directed and produced by Andrew Niccol. Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake star as inhabitants in a society where people stop aging at 25. Instead of using fiat money as currency, a new economic system uses time as currency, and each person has a clock on their arm that counts down how long they have to live. Cillian Murphy, Vincent Kartheiser, Olivia Wilde, Matt Bomer, Johnny Galecki, and Alex Pettyfer also star. The film was released on October 28, 2011.


In 2169, people are genetically engineered to stop aging on their 25th birthday, when a one-year countdown on their forearm begins. When it reaches zero, the person "times out" and dies instantly. Time has thus become the universal currency, transferred directly between people or stored in "time capsules". Several major areas called Time Zones exist; Dayton is the poorest, a manufacturing "ghetto" where people rarely have over 24 hours on their clocks, whereas in New Greenwich, people have enough time to be essentially immortal.

Will Salas, a 28-year-old Dayton factory worker, lives with his 50-year-old mother, Rachel. One night, he rescues a drunken 105-year-old man named Henry Hamilton from 75-year-old Fortis and his Minutemen, a group of time-robbing thugs. In a secret location, Hamilton, who has 116 years on his clock but is tired of living, reveals to Will that the people of New Greenwich hoard most of the time while constantly increasing prices to keep poorer people dying. The following day, he transfers all but five minutes of his time to a sleeping Will, then times out by falling off a bridge before Will can stop him. Raymond Leon, the 75-year-old leader of a unit of police-like Timekeepers, erroneously assumes Will robbed and killed Hamilton.

Will visits his friend Borel, who warns him against having so much time in Dayton, and gives him ten years, one for each year of their friendship, before meeting his mother to leave for New Greenwich together. However, the city bus fare has risen from one to two hours, and Rachel, having used all but 90 minutes of her time to pay off a two-day loan, is short on a bus fare to return to Dayton. The uncaring driver forces her to run back to Dayton, but she arrives a few seconds too late for Will to save her and times out in his arms. Heartbroken and angry, Will vows revenge for his mother's death by taking the people of New Greenwich for everything they have.

In New Greenwich, Will meets 110-year-old time-loaning businessman Philippe Weis and his 27-year-old daughter Sylvia at a casino. While playing poker, Will pretends to nearly time out but eventually wins over a millennium in a flawless gamble. Sylvia invites him to a party, and Will buys a new sports car and drives there. Raymond arrives and arrests Will, who insists on his innocence in Hamilton's death. Rather than attempting to prove Will's guilt, he confiscates all but two hours of Will's time, explaining it does not belong in Dayton.

Will escapes, taking Sylvia to Dayton as a hostage, but Fortis' gang ambushes them, taking most of their time and leaving them with 30 minutes each. Will attempts to get some time back from Borel, but his wife Greta tearfully explains that he has drunk himself to death. They manage to get a day each by selling Sylvia's earrings. Will calls Weis to demand a 1,000-year ransom to be paid into the time-mission for the desperate. When Weis refuses, Will releases Sylvia anyway. Raymond finds Will, but Sylvia shoots him in the arm. Will gives Raymond enough time to survive long enough for his squad to find him and steals his car.

Now committed to ending the system, Will and Sylvia rob Weis' time banks, giving the extra time capsules to the needy, but soon realize that they cannot significantly change anything, as prices are raised faster to compensate for the extra time. Fortis' gang ambushes them, but Will manages to time out Fortis in an arm-wrestling match and shoot his thugs. He and Sylvia then decide to rob Weis' vault of a 1,000,000-year capsule. Raymond chases them back to Dayton but fails to stop them from distributing the stolen time; Raymond times out, having neglected to download his day's salary. Will and Sylvia nearly time out themselves but survive by taking Raymond's salary.

TV reports show factories in Dayton shutting down as everyone has enough time and abandons their jobs. Having seen the consequences of his obsession with the pair, Raymond's colleague Jaeger orders the Timekeepers to return home. Will and Sylvia progress to larger banks, still trying to crash the system.



Before the film was titled In Time, the names Now and I'm.mortal were used.[6] On July 12, 2010, it was reported that Amanda Seyfried had been offered a lead role.[7] On July 27, 2010, it was confirmed that Justin Timberlake had been offered a lead role.[8] On August 9, 2010, Cillian Murphy was confirmed to have joined the cast.[9]

The first photos from the set were revealed on October 28, 2010.[10] 20th Century Fox and New Regency distributed the film, and Marc Abraham and Eric Newman's Strike Entertainment produced it.[11]

In an interview with Kristopher Tapley of In Contention, 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.[12]

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. Although the names of the ghetto-like zone and wealthy enclave reflect Dayton and Greenwich, respectively, the maps used by the Timekeepers are maps of Los Angeles.

For the retrofuturistic setting, the production's vehicle suppliers assembled a fleet of cars and trucks from used car lots and junkyards. Although an old Citroën DS 21 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 oversized 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.

The use of retrofuturism is one of many elements that the film shares with Niccol's earlier work, Gattaca; Niccol himself referred to it as "the bastard child of Gattaca".[13] That film also features electrically powered vintage cars (notably a Rover P6 and again, a Citroën DS), as well as buildings of indeterminate age. Gattaca also deals with innate inequalities (though in its case genetic, rather than longevity) and also features a character seeking 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 1965 short story "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman".

The suit, naming New Regency, director Andrew Niccol and a number of anonymous John Does, appears to base its claim on the similarity that both the completed film and 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;[14] however, Ellison later altered his suit to instead ask for screen credit[15] 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."[16]

Similar works[edit]

The series Tales of Tomorrow in 1952 included an episode, "Time to Go" (episode 29),[17] in which aliens from another galaxy, who have learned how to use time as a currency, set up a "time bank" on Earth. The aliens solicit Earthling customers to bank some of their time in the bank in order to earn interest in the form of extended life. However, the aliens use a loophole in the contract with their customers to take all of their time, thus leaving the Earthlings dead. In Harlan Ellison's 1965 short story "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman", the crime of being late is punished by a proportionate amount of time being "revoked" from one's life. The ultimate consequence is to run out of time and be "turned off". This is done by the Master Timekeeper, or "Ticktockman".

Many of the elements of In Time can be found in the 1987 short film The Price of Life,[18] made by Chanticleer Films. Its basic premise and storyline are so similar that In Time has been called an unacknowledged remake of the earlier film.[19] 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 a 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.

The novel and movie Logan's Run (1976) depict a world where everyone is destroyed when they reach the age of 30 in the film or 21 in the book. The antagonists are Sandmen who hunt Runners trying to avoid destruction.[20]

David Firth's 2008 A Short Cartoon About Time also has the same concept of selling time for monetary gain.[21]


Critical response[edit]

In Time received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 37% of 172 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.26/10. The website's consensus reads, "In Time's intriguing premise and appealing cast are easily overpowered by the blunt, heavy-handed storytelling."[22] 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.[23] CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film was a "B-minus" on an A+ to F scale.[24] 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".[25] Henry Barnes noted that Will is "one of the 99%" and calls the character "a Rolex Robin Hood".[26]

Box office[edit]

In Time grossed $12 million on its opening weekend, debuting at number three behind Puss in Boots, and Paranormal Activity 3. The film declined later on during its 14 weekend box office run. The film eventually grossed over $37.5 million in the US and $136.4 million internationally for a worldwide total of $173.9 million.[5]


  1. ^ a b "In Time (2011)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  2. ^ Ng, Philiana (October 20, 2010). "'In Time' Premiere Red Carpet Arrivals: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  3. ^ "IN TIME (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. October 11, 2011. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
  4. ^ Kaufman, Amy (October 27, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'Puss in Boots' to stomp on competition". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  5. ^ a b "In Time". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
  6. ^ Rich, Katey (November 1, 2010). "I'm.mortal Retitled Now, Adds Alex Pettyfer And Matt Bomer To Cast". Cinema Blend. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  7. ^ Gallagher, Brian (July 12, 2010). "Amanda Seyfried Signs on to I'm.mortal". MovieWeb. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  8. ^ Douglas, Edward (July 27, 2012). "Justin Timberlake Leading I'm.mortal?". Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  9. ^ Gallagher, Brian (August 9, 2010). "Cillian Murphy to Star in I'm.mortal". MovieWeb. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  10. ^ "Timberlake and Seyfried Spotted Filming Their New Thriller". October 28, 2010. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  11. ^ Sneider, Jeff (August 9, 2010). "Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy in Talks to Join 'I'm.mortal". TheWrap. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  12. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (December 22, 2010). "TECH SUPPORT INTERVIEW: 'True Grit' cinematographer Roger Deakins". In Contention. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  13. ^ Capps, Robert (October 6, 2011). "Director Calls In Time 'Bastard Child of Gattaca'". Wired. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  14. ^ Gardner, Eriq (September 15, 2011). "Harlan Ellison Sues Claiming Fox's 'In Time' Rips Off Sci-Fi Story (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  15. ^ Moore, Roger (August 26, 2014). "Ellison wants 'In Time' concessions — only asks for credit?". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on February 13, 2013. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  16. ^ O'Neill, Brian (December 1, 2011). "Ellison drops lawsuit after watching In Time". Sci-Fi Storm. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  17. ^ "Tales of Tomorrow, Time to Go". Internet Archive. Internet Archive. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  18. ^ jolipere (October 27, 2010). The Price of Life. Retrieved June 25, 2018 – via Vimeo.
  19. ^ Bryan, Steven (October 25, 2011). "Does 'In Time' Owe a Debt to 'American Playhouse's' 'The Price of Life'?". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
  20. ^ Volkman, Eric (October 27, 2011). "In Time (2011) -vs- Logan's Run (1976)". Movie Smackdown. Archived from the original on November 4, 2011. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  21. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "David Firth : A Short Cartoon about Time". YouTube.
  22. ^ "In Time (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  23. ^ "In Time Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 28, 2011.
  24. ^ Finke, Nikki (October 30, 2011). "Snow Ices Box Office: 'Puss In Boots' #1, 'Paranormal' #2, 'In Time' #3, 'Rum Diary' #4". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  25. ^ Ebert, Roger. "In Time". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  26. ^ Barnes, Henry (November 4, 2011). "In Time – review". The Guardian. Retrieved June 25, 2018.

External links[edit]