Author Tess Gerritsen sued Warner Bros. on Tuesday in a federal court in Los Angeles, maintaining that the studio owes her millions of dollars in profits from its Oscar-winning film of last year, Gravity, and that it violated an agreement that she had made with one of its subsidiaries to turn the novel she had written into a movie. The author sold the film rights to the novel Gravity in 1999 for $1 million. Gerritsen has also sold the rights to a book series she wrote that served as the inspiration for the TNT TV series Rizzoli & Isles.
The lawsuit by Gerritsen says that she believes that director of Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron, had the intention to adapt her book into a screenplay for a film without her knowledge of this a long time before he actually made the movie. Gerritsen sold her novel rights to a separate production company early on, and that company was subsequently purchased by Warner Bros. in 2008.
Over the course of time during which Gravity author was suing Warner Bros. over the film’s profits, the studio was quick to point out some of the previous comments Gerritsen has made regarding her book, the film, and the differences between the two; essentially downplaying any similarities. After the release of the hit film at the beginning of October 2013, Gerritsen was quoted as saying to a local paper that Gravity was a great movie, but even so, it was not based on her book.
The novel and film have some similarities and some differences, but they are certainly not exactly the same story. The author’s book features a female lead character (a medical doctor) who gets trapped in up in space after an infectious organism kills off her fellow astronauts. The part that appears in the hit film where debris makes contact with the International Space Station and it breaks apart was not initially in the novel, but rather, added to a later screenplay by the author, she claimed, in an attempt to try to get her book made into a Hollywood blockbuster film.
Additionally, in the book by Gerritsen, the medical doctor who is trapped up in space has a husband on Earth who fights throughout the novel to find a way to get her out of the dangerous situation and bring her home safely, while many others have given up hope. There is no such sub-plot in the Gravity film, as the female main character is alone without any family, and also does not have any way to reach people on Earth after a certain point in time. The movie also does not have a plot what features the outbreak of a deadly organism that kills off its characters. It does, however, feature the breaking apart of the International Space Station and some of the astronauts’ subsequent deaths as a result of this. In addition, the main character is cut off from all contact with people on Earth, where this is not the case in the novel.
Warner Bros. has declined to make any comments on the Gravity author suing the company over the film’s profits at this time.
By Laura Clark