Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fox wins the Watchmen case

Fox won the Watchmen case yesterday (Variety).

Warner Bros. had produced the comic book adaptation thinking they had acquired the rights for the movie, but last February, 20th Century Fox filed a suit claiming they still retained the rights. As the case made its way through court, Warner Bros. went ahead with the Watchmen movie's production and promotion, and even now they have not backed away from the movie's scheduled premiere on March 6. No word has come yet on what Fox is going to do now that they have the power over the movie. In August, Fox representatives claimed that they were not looking to profit from the movie but wanted to prevent its release altogether (my old post). To me that seems awfully spiteful, not to mention very stupid. While they could be taking a huge cut of a potentially blockbuster movie without having put any money, effort, or time into its production, they would instead be opening themselves up to the considerable fury of Watchmen fans. Why would they do that? Well, we'll see what they decide to do. More updates as they come...

"Merry Christmas. Sorry I f&cked you over."

Update 12/30/08:
Warner Bros. has said they do not plan to settle with Fox (IMDb) as U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess had recommended. Judge Feess will decide on January 20th whether to block the planned March 6 release of the movie.

Update 1/7/09:
Warner Bros. and Fox have decided to forgo a jury trial and will allow Judge Gary Feess to rule whether to grant Fox a permanent injunction (Variety). The hearing will take place on January 20.

Update 1/8/09:
Warner Bros. has requested that Judge Feess rule on whether to allow Fox to block Watchmen's release as early as next Monday, since millions of dollars in marketing will be up in the air until they know for certain whether the movie will be released on March 6. The judge is expected to rule on whether to grant Warner Bros. the earlier hearing on Friday (Variety).

Update 1/9/09:
It looks like Warner Bros. and Fox may settle this dispute after all. The studios have decided to delay the federal court hearing until Monday to allow more time for settlement talks (Variety).
Meanwhile, Watchmen movie producer Lloyd Levin has written an open letter explaining his view of the whole legal dispute. It's an interesting read.

Update 1/11/09:
Warner Bros. and Fox have apparently made some progress toward a settlement, so the movie may be released on schedule after all. They have made no comment on the likely terms, but Fox would probably receive a share of the profits from Watchmen (Variety).

Update 1/15/09:
I feel this deserves its own post.

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