Author's lawsuit over hit film 'Gravity' dealt setback

AP News
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Posted: Jun 15, 2015 12:18 PM
Author's lawsuit over hit film 'Gravity' dealt setback

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen's lawsuit over the 2013 film "Gravity" is flawed and must be amended if she wants to continue seeking millions in profits from the blockbuster film, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow ruled late Friday that Gerritsen's lawsuit fails to show how Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., could be held liable for a 1999 agreement she signed with another production company and studio to make a film out of her book titled "Gravity."

Both the film and book focus on a female astronaut trapped in space after calamities strike, but Warner Bros. has noted that the author downplayed the similarities in public comments before filing her suit.

Gerritsen sued Warner Bros. in April 2014, and she amended it earlier this year after Morrow cited problems with the complaint. Her books include a series that is basis for the TNT show "Rizzoli & Isles."

The author wrote a script based on her book and received a $1 million option from Katja Motion Picture Corp. and New Line Cinema, both of which were later absorbed by Warner Bros. Gerritsen's attorneys claimed Warner Bros. should honor the contract, which provided the author would receive screen credit and a share of the film's profits if her story was developed.

Morrow, however, wrote in her 60-page ruling that Gerritsen's lawsuit failed to show that Warner Bros. could be held liable for the agreement.

Gerritsen's attorney, Glen Kulik, wrote in an email Monday that his firm was reviewing the opinion and planned to file an amended complaint. An attorney for Warner Bros. has not returned email messages seeking comment.

"Gravity," which starred Sandra Bullock and was directed and co-written by Alfonso Cuaron, won seven Academy Awards and has earned more than $700 million.

The novel and film have some similarities, but their stories aren't identical.

The novel features a female medical doctor trapped in space after an organism infects her fellow astronauts and kills them. Her husband, who is on Earth, fights efforts to leave his wife in space to die alone.

Gerritsen's added elements such as the destruction of the International Space Station by space debris — a key moment in the film — to a screenplay she wrote to try to get her book on the big screen.

"Gravity" the film does not feature any outbreak of an organism, and Bullock's character is cut off from communication with Earth and does not receive any aid from people on the ground.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP