Author Tess Gerritsen is having trouble getting the court to acknowledge her claim that 2013’s Gravity owes a lot, if not everything, to her 1999 book of the same name. Gerritsen sued Warner Bros. last year because she wanted to prove that there was a breach in her initial contract and that the studio owed her a “based upon” credit, as well as a large chunk of money for the film. Unfortunately, the writer has since come up short twice in court. In a blog post Monday, Gerritsen explained she was told she hasn’t made a viable breach-of-contract claim because Warner Bros. is not responsible for New Line’s contractual obligations to her. (She had a 1999 contract with New Line before Warner Bros. acquired the mini-studio in 2008.)
The judge dismissed Gerritsen’s suit because, according to Variety, the author’s complaint did not “allege plausible claims against WB on successor-in-interest, alter ego, and agency liability theory.” Though Gerritsen and her team have argued that the two companies are inextricably bound and that there are uncanny similarities between her book and the film, the federal judge overseeing her case, as she notes on her blog, did not look past technicalities. “The court’s latest decision focused solely on the Warner Bros./New Line corporate relationship,” she wrote. “It did not take into consideration my novel or Cuaron’s film or the similarities between them.”
And that’s a bummer because, as Gerritsen goes on to say in her post:
It did not address my third-act rewrite of Michael Goldenberg’s Gravity script, in which I depicted satellite debris colliding with the International Space Station, the destruction of ISS, and the sole surviving female astronaut adrift in her EVA suit.
It did not address our evidence that Alfonso Cuaron was attached to direct my Gravity project in 2000, or the fact there were executives involved with both my Gravity project and Cuaron’s film.
The ruling was made without affording my attorneys any opportunity for oral argument. We were never given an opportunity for discovery. We have been stopped at the courthouse door, unable to present the evidence we’ve amassed about the direct development links between my novel Gravity and Cuaron’s film Gravity.
So what now? Well, if there’s any silver lining for Gerritsen’s side of things, it’s that she’s not going to give up and that her case is not dead. The court is giving Gerritsen another chance to file an amended complaint, which she will take advantage of because, as she says, “[T]he consequences of this ruling could be devastating to all writers working in any media, including film, television, and publishing.” Yikes.