Winston Groom, the creator and author of Forrest Gump, has died at 77. A prolific author of several fiction and non-fiction books, including several history books on American history and the Civil War, Groom's best-known work is Gump. The original book was published in 1986 but didn't find Groom any success until the film's release in 1994.
The novel sold 1.7 million copies around the globe as the film would go on to win six Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Tom Hanks in the titular role. Before the film, the novel reportedly only sold 30,000 copies.
We are saddened to learn of the passing of one of our Legends, Winston Groom. A 1965 UA graduate, Groom authored 16 books, including Forrest Gump. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time. Bio: https://t.co/KoyJD7alVy #WhereLegendsAreMade pic.twitter.com/8B1V1BmOn3— The Univ. of Alabama (@UofAlabama) September 17, 2020
Mayor Karin Wilson of Fairhope, Alabama broke the news on Facebook, including a photo taken by Groom's daughter Carolina. There was no cause of death at the time of publication. "It is with great sadness that I share the passing of our dear friend Winston Groom. The City of Fairhope has lost an iconic author today. Please keep his friends and family in your thoughts and prayers," Wilson wrote.
Despite the success of the film Forrest Gump, Groom was left out of the significant payday for the story. Groom was reportedly paid $350,000 for the screenplay rights to his novel. He was also eligible for 3 percent of the film's net profits. However, according to the Journal Record in 1995, Forrest Gump still hadn't made "net profits" despite being a profitable venture for Paramount studios, director Robert Zemeckis, and Hanks at the time. The latter pair made around $40 million apiece due to being owed a percent of the gross receipts.
Groom's complaint with Paramount studio over Forrest Gump was put to rest after the company explained the accounting and later was offered a seven-figure contract for his sequel book Gump & Co. back in 1995. The sequel book never made it to film and remained in development for over a decade. It did continue the story from both the first book and movie, adopting some of the movie's changes for the sequel.
The sequel book also referenced the movie, allowing it to exist as a true sequel and a commentary on the film itself. A second movie never happened, though, partly due to the 9/11 attacks. The screenplay for the second film was delivered the day before the terrorist attacks. Screenwriter Eric Roth told Slash Film about the situation back in 2008.0comments
"I turned in my version of the Forrest Gump sequel, or Part II, whatever you call it… It's a continuation really — I want to start the movie literally two minutes after the end of the last one, with him on the bus bench waiting for his son to get home from school," Roth told the outlet. "But I turned in the script the night before 9/11. And we sat down, Tom [Hanks] and Bob [Zemeckis] and I, looked at each other and said, we don't think this is relevant anymore. The world had changed. Now time has obviously passed, but maybe some things should just be one thing and left as they are."
Groom's final novel, titled El Paso, was released in 2016. He would then release the non-fiction The Allies: Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and the Unlikely Alliance That Won World War II in 2018.