Best selling author Tess Gerritsen has sued Warner Brothers for breach of contract over their Oscar-winning space film "Gravity". According the Gerritsen, she had a deal with a subsidary of Warner Bros. for her book of the same title, "Gravity". While the book does not have the exact same story, there are similar elements between the two story, including the idea of a lone female astronaut stuck in space. According to this Vanity Fair article, Gerritsen herself at the time the film was released said that the film was not based on her novel, but now has learned information that a key player in the film was one of the people originally trying to bring her book to the big screen.
When talking to a copyright attorney about what is in the public domain, you will often get the response "it's complicated". While anything published prior to 1923 is pretty likely to be in the public domain, anything created after 1923 is a bit more complicated.