Tess Gerritsen claims she's owed $10 million from movie profits

Camden author sues Warner Bros. over film Gravity

Posted:  Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 9:15pm

LOS ANGELES - Best-selling author and Camden resident Tess Gerritsen has filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros., alleging that the movie Gravity was based on one of her books by the same name. The suit filed in Los Angeles asks for 2.5 percent of gross sales, or approximately $10 million, and maintains that the movie was based upon her novel.

Gerritsen sold the rights to Gravity in 1999. Gerritsen’s 24 novels include the Rizzoli and Isles crime series. In a statement posted on her website, Gerritsen thanks her supporters and explains her reasoning. (See also her Facebook page for more on the suit.)

“In 1999, the feature film rights to Tess Gerritsen’s novel Gravity were sold outright to the motion picture company Katja Motion Picture Corporation and its parent company New Line Productions. While that project was still in development, Ms. Gerritsen wrote and submitted additional material, including scenes of satellite debris colliding with the International Space Station, the total destruction of ISS, and the surviving female astronaut left adrift in her space suit, alone and untethered. As far as Ms. Gerritsen knew, efforts to develop her novel into a film ended in 2002.

“Years later, Ms. Gerritsen became aware of striking similarities between her novel and the then-upcoming film Gravity, to be directed by Alfonso Cuarón and produced, financed, and released by Warner Bros., which, since 2008, has owned and controlled New Line and Katja. Both Ms. Gerritsen’s novel and the film are set in orbital space and feature a female medical doctor/astronaut who is stranded alone aboard a space station after a series of disasters kill the rest of the crew. Both detail the astronaut’s struggle to survive. Both are called Gravity.

“At the time, Ms. Gerritsen was unaware of any connection between those persons responsible for the film and those who had worked to develop her novel into a film. Ms. Gerritsen believed that as improbable as it appeared, it was at least within the realm of possibility that an independent storyteller could come up with the same specific setting, character, situation, and give it an identical title.

“Then, in February 2014, Ms. 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.

“Ms. Gerritsen is now convinced the similarities are not merely coincidental. Therefore, she has decided to pursue legal action. She has engaged Glen Kulik, of the firm of Kulik Gottesman & Siegel LLP, to file a complaint against Warner Bros., New Line and Katja.”

Read the complaint.

Gerritsen wrote: “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.

“While I cannot make further comments on this matter, I want to thank my readers and fellow writers for their kindness and support. If this happened to me, it can happen to any writer.”