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'Gravity' Lawsuit: Author Tess Gerritsen Seeks $10M From Warner Bros.

By Cristina Yu, Esq. on May 01, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Things are looking grave for Dr. Ryan Stone -- now the studio behind her movie is being sued by author Tess Gerritsen.

The poor, fictional lady has the worst luck ever. First her daughter falls and dies. Then she goes up in space and gets pelted by rocks. Her studly astronaut buddy drifts off into the black abyss and leaves her stranded and alone in the void. Satellite after satellite poops out on her. She crash lands in a lake. The landing pod catches on fire. She almost drowns. She fights off a shark. She wades up on shore only to be met by the North Korean Army. Now this.

What is Gerritsen's "Gravity" lawsuit about?

'Gravity': From Book to the Big Screen

Best-selling author Tess Gerritsen published a novel called "Gravity" in 1999. The book features a female medical researcher who has to battle a deadly microbe aboard a satellite. The space shuttle crashes, the contagion threatens the Earth's population, and her husband and NASA struggle to bring her back home.

The 2013 movie "Gravity" features a female medical engineer who endures crash after crash aboard various satellites and eventually crash-lands into a lake. Gerritsen is claiming breach of contract rather than copyright infringement.

In March 1999, Gerritsen sold the movie rights to her novel to Katja Motion Picture Corp., a shell company for New Line Cinema. She was paid $1 million, but her contract called for her to receive a production bonus of $500,000, along with 2.5 percent of the "defined net proceeds" from the movie and an on-screen credit.

Gerritsen's suit claims that adds up to at least $10 million in damages, Variety reports.

Breach of Contract Alleged

Gerritsen claims that director Alfonso Cuaron worked on the screen adaptation of her novel, although she was never told about his involvement.

Cuaron and his son later went on to write the screenplay for the movie "Gravity." Gerritsen claims the movie is based on her book and that she is therefore entitled to the benefits outlined in the contract with Katja, as The New York Times explains. (Warner Bros. purchased New Line in 2008 and by doing so it assumed all the contract responsibilities of Katja Motion Picture Corp.)

Gerritsen saw the movie "Gravity" and at first did not believe it was based on her book. But after she "received startling new information from a reliable source," she changed her mind, according to Variety.

Gerritsen's "Gravity" lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles. A spokesman for Warner Bros. declined to comment.

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