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The upcoming movie In Time, featuring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, is written and directed by Andrew Niccol and will introduce audiences to a mind-blowing concept that makes reality out of the saying “time is money.”
In a future where time is literally money and aging stops at 25, the only way to stay alive is to earn, steal, or inherit more time. The main character, Will Salas, lives minute-to-minute, until a windfall of time gives him access to the world of the wealthy, where he teams up with a beautiful young heiress to destroy the corrupt system.
The story picks up the obsession with youth of our society. Billions of dollars are spent annually by the health and beauty industries, trying to find ways to halt the body’s aging process, feeding consumers willing to spend a cumulative amount that could erase a small country’s debt in exchange for their very own fountain of youth.
Science edges ever closer to finding the solution to combating the complex process, but in the meantime, one man may have found a way to keep human beings young forever — on paper, at least: future-realist filmmaker Andrew Niccol. Niccol’s skill in bringing together big action set pieces and big ideas in unexpected ways, in fantastical yet recognizable worlds is in full evidence in his new feature.
“In Time is an action thriller,” Niccol points out. “I think people can enjoy it on that level. They’ll go for the stunts, action, car chases and to see Amanda Seyfried wielding a gun, which she does brilliantly! But I think audiences will appreciate some of the ideas and themes we explore, because In Time does say something about our desire to stay young forever.
While we can’t turn off the aging gene, as we’re able to do in the film, we do go to a lot of extremes to stay young.” Niccol, a New Zealander, had honed his filmmaking skills in London directing commercials, before arriving in Hollywood with a splash as writer and director of Gattaca.
The following year, he penned The Truman Show, which garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Niccol’s ability to bring together bold, new ideas with instantly relatable ones resonated with producer Eric Newman. “Like all of Andrew’s work, his screenplay for In Time really transported me, and I found myself in a world he had created,” Newman recalls.
“It was a parable, a socially conscious work and yet, like all his work, it was incredibly entertaining, fast-paced and brilliant.” Executive producer Andrew Z. Davis was eager to work on a film that was both a great ride and a social commentary: “In Time has resonance. Everyone can relate to a story about haves and have-nots, which is essentially what the story’s about.
But, at the same time, it has action, romance, and a political message. And as everyone knows, a good thriller has to have a ticking clock, whether you’re waiting for a bomb to go off or a hostage to get rescued. In this movie, it is actually a clock; time is the great discriminator.”
Executive producer Kristel Laiblin was taken with the intricacies of Niccol’s work and the flourishes in his storytelling: “Andrew’s way with telling a story is economical and evocative. The world of our hero moves quickly; no one wastes time. At the opposite end is the world of the wealthy, where you’d never see anyone timing out.
You can spend time however you want—a leisurely game, like cards, which no one would play elsewhere. They are completely different worlds and Andrew created them both vividly in a few pages.”
Amy Israel, an executive producer on In Time, was at New Regency Productions when Niccol brought in the project and she, like all of her colleagues, sharply remembers her first read: “Andrew’s script was original, had a big idea and had a compelling emotional story at its core. It was special, and we all knew that from the start.
And the story took place in a world not unlike our own, sort of an alternate reality. Here, time is currency, and everyone is born with a body clock embedded on the wrist. At the age of 25, when the frontal lobe of the brain and the body are considered fully matured, that clock starts ticking – and you have one year to live.
Either you’re born into time, and have no worries, or you begin working your life away, literally.” Producer Eric Newman notes the speed with which Niccol introduces this world in his script. “The biggest challenge in a movie like this is how do we sell the world?” Newman explains. “Andrew did it in the first three pages of the script.
Will Salas wakes up, walks into a room, and there is a beautiful 25-year-old woman and he says, ‘Hi, Mom.’ And he’s got this counter on his wrist, and it’s counting down. And his mother gives him 30 minutes for lunch. You understand immediately that Will has 22 hours to live [unless he can obtain more time].
And that’s his mother, even though they appear the same age, and she just gave him time to buy a decent lunch. That’s brilliance in economy, which is difficult to accomplish in a script.”
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