Movie News

20th Century Fox seeks to delay Watchmen

The litigious tide is turning in 20th Century Fox Film Corporation’s favor. That’s what the Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. gets for not doing their due diligence on Watchmen. How could they make such a large mistake? Judge Gary A. Feess concluded on December 24, 2008 that Fox “should prevail on crucial issues” in their lawsuit over the film (and any future films) based on the Watchmen 12-issue comic book series. If I was in charge of this at 20th Century Fox I would ask for half: Half the theatrical take, half the DVD sales and half of the merchandising (including videogame) profits. They almost have Warner Bros. over a barrel now, think Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction or Ace Ventura thrusting with his pelvis: “Can you feel that huh?” According to the New York Times, “Feess says that ‘Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the Watchmen motion picture’ and that ‘The parties may wish to turn their efforts from preparing for trial to negotiating a resolution of this dispute or positioning the case for review.’

I believe this means that Warner Bros no longer or will no longer have the right to distribute Watchmen and that those rights will migrate over to 20th Century Fox if this case moves forward. If Fox gains distribution rights and doesn’t get what they want financially, they can always delay the release of the film. That would be unfortunate for Warner Bros as Watchmen is their tent pole for March (possibly for the year) and was to be part of their bottom line for this fiscal year. It is all good for Fox since they only put up a million dollars to develop the Watchmen property in the late 80’s. For them it is win, win either way. “Warners already are sharing the portion of the film it didn’t sell to Paramount with financing partner Legendary Pictures, the studio doesn’t have that much to divvy up.” Uh oh. I bet Warner Bros’ legal department got reamed over this debacle by studio head Alan Horn. The original case was originally filed in February 2008 and was finally brought before court in August 2008. Keep that interim of time between the two months in mind when the idea of appealing the judge’s decision is broached. “If WB goes on the appeal road, then Watchmen may not come out until 2011 considering the glacial speed which the court system move.”

Yesterday, one of 20th Century Fox’s legal counselors told the Associated Press that “the studio will continue to seek an order delaying the release of ‘Watchmen.'” Read Battlefield Earth folks because this is a clear cut example of leverage. When questioned, an attorney for Warner Bros. said “he didn’t know if an appeal was coming, but thinks a trial is necessary and a settlement unlikely.” Fox is in such a profitable position now. The trial to settle the dispute is still scheduled for January 20th. Do you guys think the Watchmen release date will be held? Let me hear your thoughts below. We will keep you posted on any further developments. What do you think of this legal battle and what it could mean for the Watchmen?

Source: Associated Press, New York Times

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to us by Email or Full RSS Feed to be informed when we post new ones.

 

About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

  • Jon

    I’ve been following this pretty closely, as I am a huge fan of the graphic novel and Zack Snyder. And up until this news broke, I wasn’t worried at all. But now, I’m having doubts. It certainly doesn’t look good.
    This news is disgusting to me. Why is this happening now? Why didn’t Fox throw a fit when they heard that Warner Bro’s was trying to acquire the property, when they announced plans for the movie, when they announced a director. It takes a while for all of this to get done, and it certainly seems to me like Fox was just biding its time, waiting to see if the film would be any good before they really decided to go after Warner bro’s. They should’ve sent the hounds after them when the news first broke if they really didn’t want this film to be made.
    I know there is something here that I’m missing, but it is still pretty obvious that there could’ve been a solution to this a long time ago. The film is going to make all sorts of money in the theater. Couple that with DVD sales, and there will be more than enough cash to give Fox a cut. It’s B.S

  • Jon

    I’ve been following this pretty closely, as I am a huge fan of the graphic novel and Zack Snyder. And up until this news broke, I wasn’t worried at all. But now, I’m having doubts. It certainly doesn’t look good.
    This news is disgusting to me. Why is this happening now? Why didn’t Fox throw a fit when they heard that Warner Bro’s was trying to acquire the property, when they announced plans for the movie, when they announced a director. It takes a while for all of this to get done, and it certainly seems to me like Fox was just biding its time, waiting to see if the film would be any good before they really decided to go after Warner bro’s. They should’ve sent the hounds after them when the news first broke if they really didn’t want this film to be made.
    I know there is something here that I’m missing, but it is still pretty obvious that there could’ve been a solution to this a long time ago. The film is going to make all sorts of money in the theater. Couple that with DVD sales, and there will be more than enough cash to give Fox a cut. It’s B.S

  • Jon

    And why didn’t Warner Bro’s address this when the whole movie making process started? Throw Fox some cash so they never made it to this point. They blew it big time. Now that the movie is a clear money maker, Fox wants a bigger slice of the pie. W.B really screwed up big. Why are they trying to take this to trial? They have to know something none of us do, because at this point it doesn’t seem like they will win.

  • Jon

    And why didn’t Warner Bro’s address this when the whole movie making process started? Throw Fox some cash so they never made it to this point. They blew it big time. Now that the movie is a clear money maker, Fox wants a bigger slice of the pie. W.B really screwed up big. Why are they trying to take this to trial? They have to know something none of us do, because at this point it doesn’t seem like they will win.

  • I read a post months ago about how Fox repeated tried to contact Warner Bros during the production of Watchmen and how Warner did not get back in contact with them.
    Plus they should have made sure they had all the rights to start with.
    For Fox its money in the bank. The film gets delayed: money in the bank. It comes out in March: money in the bank. They didn’t pay to produce or advertise it: money in the bank.
    There might not be enough money for everyone. The cost of Watchmen has been divided amongst Warner, Legendary and someone else. There might not be that much left.

  • I read a post months ago about how Fox repeated tried to contact Warner Bros during the production of Watchmen and how Warner did not get back in contact with them.
    Plus they should have made sure they had all the rights to start with.
    For Fox its money in the bank. The film gets delayed: money in the bank. It comes out in March: money in the bank. They didn’t pay to produce or advertise it: money in the bank.
    There might not be enough money for everyone. The cost of Watchmen has been divided amongst Warner, Legendary and someone else. There might not be that much left.

  • Jon

    Really? Wow. You are right, they should’ve gotten the rights from day one.

    I know it was just wishful thinking that they could come to some sort of settlement. I just really want this movie to be released. That last trailer looked really good, don’t you think?

    I guess, the fact that it has been filmed already with Snyder in the editing process means even if it isn’t released now, eventually we will see it. Either in the theaters or on DVD.

  • Jon

    Really? Wow. You are right, they should’ve gotten the rights from day one.

    I know it was just wishful thinking that they could come to some sort of settlement. I just really want this movie to be released. That last trailer looked really good, don’t you think?

    I guess, the fact that it has been filmed already with Snyder in the editing process means even if it isn’t released now, eventually we will see it. Either in the theaters or on DVD.

  • Hell yeah the last trailer looked good.

    Don’t worry. Watchmen will come out eventually.

  • Hell yeah the last trailer looked good.

    Don’t worry. Watchmen will come out eventually.

Mega Menu

Send this to friend