In this day and age, you just can’t tell if you have a successful science fiction film or not until you get slapped with a lawsuit. Just ask James Cameron, whose Avatar has been accused of everything from concept-theft to album cover-copying. Even though the courts took time in handling those cases, nobody ever really thought Cameron would be found guilty of copycatting. That may not be the case here, though, as bestselling author Tess Gerritsen and her legal team are suing Warner Bros. over Alfonso Cuarón‘s Oscar-winning blockbuster Gravity. This case actually has legs, and they aren’t just flopping around in space, either.
Though she was previously quoted as saying the cinematic version of Gravity had nothing to do with her 1999 novel of the same name, Gerritsen is now claiming that several ideas were lifted from her past work. On a surface level, the novel is only partially related, as it’s centered on a female doctor on board the International Space Station on a mission to study living things in space. Unfortunately, the highly reactive bacteria gets loose and the entire ISS becomes an infection zone as she tries to figure out a way to get back home without putting the human race in danger.
New Line acquired the Gravity novel right around the time it was published, and Gerritsen was brought in to write additional material for the adaptation. It’s here where the two projects come to a crossroads and the lawsuit sounds a little less ludicrous. Gerritsen’s additions included scenes where satellite debris collide with the ISS and do a damned fine job of destroying it, which leaves the female protagonist floating out in space all alone and untethered as she plans her mode of survival. If you’ll recall, half of Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-nominated performance involved her breathing heavily as she bobbed around in space on her own.
Only the author and those involved know exactly how close this situation matches up with the one in Cuarón’s film, but it must be pretty relevant if it’s enough to make Gerritsen go back on her previous stance that the book and movie were mutually exclusive. Any hack worth his or her time would have taken Cuarón to court simply for using the same title, but Gerritsen, whose work inspired the TNT drama Rizzoli & Isles, has been in the business for decades and isn’t someone to underestimate.
She declares she’s owed a $500,000 production bonus, along with 2.5%of any net proceeds that the film earned. Their estimates put this around $10 million, but it could equal out to even more if Warner Bros. ever releases info about the film’s profits. Do you guys think she deserves the money, or do the projects sound different enough to warrant Cuarón’s film a victory here?