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Gravity and the lawsuit against them

You may know Tess Gerritsen, or at least her very popular characters, Rizzoli and Isles. I'm betting what you don't know is her part in the film of the very popular Gravity. From her blog post:

In 1999, I sold the film rights to my book GRAVITY to New Line Productions. The contract stipulates that if a movie is made based on my book, I will receive "based upon" credit, a production bonus, and a percentage of net profits. The book is about a female medical doctor/astronaut who is stranded aboard the International Space Station after the rest of her crew is killed in a series of accidents. A biological hazard aboard ISS traps her in quarantine, unable to return to earth. While my film was in development, I re-wrote the third act of the film script with scenes of satellite debris destroying ISS and the lone surviving female astronaut adrift in her spacesuit.

Alfonso Cuaron was attached to direct my film — a fact I did not know at the time. My project never made it out of development.


Obviously, this looks like it's going to end up being a copyright infringement lawsuit. It's not. Gerritsen fully admits that by taking over New Line Productions, Warner Bros has the rights to produce the film. What the lawsuit is about is the "based upon" credit, a production bonus, and a percentage of net profits" part of the contract.

So far, WB has gotten the lawsuit dismissed. The courts and WB say they have no legal obligation to honor the contract made by New Line Productions. This is actually very worrying, because this isn't something that will effect this one author. Anyone author who has a contract from New Line now has nothing if the WB decides to produce the film anyway. They still have the rights to the work without that pesky detail of having to deal with the person who contracted their rights away.

Glen Kulik (her lawyer) is working on refiling. It's my hope that they find a way to make this work, because I do think that this could cause some issues for authors.

H/T to Stephen Blackmoore who mentioned this on twitter and there was a post linked by Matt Wallace.


The original statement is here.

Rob Bricken also wrote a post about it in 2014.

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