Author Tess Gerritsen Sues Warner Bros., Claims 'Gravity' Was Based On Her Book
Author Tess Gerritsen filed a suit against Warner Bros. for breach of contract, claiming that the Oscar-winning film Gravity was based on her book by the same name.
Tess Gerritsen Sues Warner Bros For Breach Of Contract
Gerritsen filed the lawsuit in US District Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 29, claiming breach of contract. Gerritsen, a prolific writer, published her novel, Gravity, in 1999. The book centers around a strong female doctor/astronaut who must fight for her life after the rest of her crew is killed. She maintains that she sold the rights to her novel to Katja Motion Picture Corp., a part of New line, for $1 million in 1999 and was promised that, should a film be made based on her book, she would receive a $500,000 production bonus and 2.5% of the net profits of the film, as well as a screen credit.
Warner Bros. acquired New Line in 2008, and so Gerritsen claims that the studio is in breach of her original contract with Katja Motion Picture Corp. Gerritsen claims that when she first heard of the blockbuster movie starring Sandra Bullock as a lone woman lost in space, she believed that the similarities between her novel and the film were coincidental. However, the lawsuit claims that Gravity director and co-writer Alfonso Cuaron, who wrote the screenplay with his son Jonas Cuaron, was attached to the adaptation of her novel and therefore had intimate knowledge of her work before he made Gravity.
“For two years, I gave the filmmakers every benefit of the doubt, but sometimes you have to be brave and take a stand,” Gerritsen wrote on Facebook.
Gerritsen is suing Warner Bros. for at least $10 million in damages.
Claim: 'Gravity' Based On Gerritsen Novel
A statement released by a spokesperson for Gerritsen explained that the author hadn’t taken legal action before because she believed it was within the realm of possibility that an author had created a story similar to hers until February, when Gerritsen “received startling new information from a reliable source. She was told that at least one individual who was key to the development of the film Gravity had also been connected to her project while it was in development, and would have been familiar with her novel.”
It is important to note that Gerritsen is not filling for copyright infringement, so the similarities between the film and the book plot-wise are less important to the lawsuit. In the book, Emma Watson, a scientist, finds herself alone in space after an experiment with a single-cell organism goes wrong and begins infecting and killing the crew. The film Gravity may tell a very different narrative, but the plot similarities could be enough to prove that Gravity was “based on” Gerritsen’s book, meaning breach of contract.
On her official website, Gerritsen wrote a message to her fans, giving a bit more insight into why she decided to file suit.
“Writing Gravity was the most daunting challenge of my career. Even with my background in science, it took exhaustive research, visits to NASA facilities, and interviews with scientists, engineers, flight surgeons, project managers, spaceflight historians, and numerous NASA personnel before I felt knowledgeable enough to write even a single page of this highly technical story. It is the novel I am proudest of,” Gerritsen wrote.
Warner Bros. has not yet commented on the suit.
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