UPDATE, 1:19 PM: Turns out Tess Gerritsen has strongly believed for a few months that her 1999 Gravity novel and the 2013 Alfonso Cuaron-directed film of the same name might have a lot more in common than she first assumed. Shifting from her previous stance that all the two shared was a title, the best selling author yesterday sued Warner Bros for more than $10 million and breach of contract over the Gravity movie. Here’s perhaps why. “In February 2014, Ms. Gerritsen received startling new information from a reliable source,” said a statement posted on the author’s blog late last night. “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.” No names are given nor what the individual in question’s role was.
In yesterday’s filing in federal court, Gerritsen, upon whose books TNT‘s flagship drama series Rizzoli & Isles is based, never provided a true smoking gun as to how her novel about a female astronaut trapped in space ended up as a 2013 movie with a similar main character with seemingly nothing to do with her. The hugely successful writer did claim in her court filing that recently she was “informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that writer/director Alfonso Cuaron was attached to the Gerritsen Gravity Project and worked on developing the Book into a Picture.” New Line purchased the movie rights to Gerritsen’s Gravity novel for $1 million 15 years ago and was working to make it into a film for several years. The complaint goes on to say about Cuaron’s supposed participation that “Gerritsen was not told of this attachment at the time.” So, the question is now is it Cuaron being referred to in the blog post or someone else?
PREVIOUS, APRIL 29 PM: First she said that the movie had nothing to do with her book, but today Tess Gerritsen is suing Warner Bros over the Alfonso Cuaron-directed Gravity. In a breach of contract complaint filed in federal court in LA today (read it here), the prolific author upon whose books TNT‘s flagship drama series Rizzoli & Isles is based now says she wants more than $10 million plus damages from the studio for the Oscar-winning movie. In her request for a jury trial, the author alleges that she is owed a”Based on the book by Tess Gerritsen”credit, a $500,000 production bonus and 2.5% of 100% of the net proceeds from any film derived from her 1999 novel Gravity, which New Line’s Katja purchased the rights for $1 million the year it came out. Being that the Sandra Bullock and George Clooney starrer has made more than $716 million worldwide since its October 4 release, Gerritsen could be aiming for even more big bucks if her lawyer ever gets the real final figures from WB accounting. And the fact is right off the bat, her Gravity book does share some details with the movie: Both are about a female astronaut trapped in space and fighting for her life, though the book involves a virus on the International Space Station and the film does not.
Still, the book does sound a lot like the pic Cuaron is credited with co-writing with his son Jonas, but today’s suit takes a very different line than Gerritsen was giving as recently as October. “Yes, Gravity is a great film, but it is not based on my book,” the author bluntly told the Banner Graphic of Greencastle, IN. Beyond a belief that Cuaron was actually attached at one point to the film version of her book, something Gerristen says she didn’t know at the time, there’s no detailed explanation in today’s filing as to why that has changed, but it obviously has. A WB spokesman today had no comment on the suit except to say the studio had not even been served. Additionally, according to today’s filing, Gerritsen’s Gravity became a lot more like what the the movie Gravity was when it was being developed by Katija/New Line over 14 years ago.
“To assist in the development of the Gerritsen Gravity Project, Gerritsen wrote and delivered additional material that constituted a modified version of a portion of the Book. The additional material written by Gerritsen included scenes of satellite debris colliding with the International Space Station (“ISS”), the destruction of the ISS, and the surviving female medical doctor/astronaut left drifting in her space suit, alone and untethered, seeking the means to return to earth,” says the 11-page complaint. Now, the courts in LA are littered with plaintiffs certain that their work was stolen by the studios or networks. Some are right or at least on the right path, but many are dreaming and, to some extent, hoping. However, very few of them have the credentials or the credits of Gerritsen. With two dozen novels to her name plus a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week screenplay and the broad-strokes similarities between her work and the movie, this likely will not be one of those cases that is dismissed quickly or easily. Doesn’t help that the novel and film have the exact same title. Glen Kulik and Natalie Wright of Sherman Oaks firm Kulik Gottesman & Siegel LLP is representing Gerritsen in the legal action.