Sorry to “Ba Humbug” your Christmas day, but some terrible news has officially hit the web: 20th Century Fox has won their lawsuit against Warner Bros. over the rights to Watchmen.
What does this startling development mean for the future of one of the most anticipated movies of 2009? No one knows for sure, but now would definitely be a good time to start worrying.
About a week ago Screen Rant reported that the Los Angeles federal judge presiding over the Watchmen lawsuit had delayed the case until January 20, 2009, due to an impeding criminal case he had to preside over. However, less than week after announcing that delay, Judge Gary Allen Fees issued a surprise ruling on the case on Wednesday, and needless to say, the verdict didn’t go the way Warner Bros. (or the legions of Watchmen fans out there) hoped it would.
If this is the first you’ve heard of the matter: Fox originally filed the lawsuit back in February, citing a breach of contract by Watchmen producer Larry Gordon, who obtained the rights to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons‘ groundbreaking graphic novel from Fox, back in the mid 90’s. According to Fox, Gordon never fulfilled all of the stipulations of his contract with the studio, thereby rendering his acquisition of the rights to Watchmen null and void.
Ever since the lawsuit was filed, there has been no explanation of why Fox waited so long (until Watchmen gained significant buzz) to take action against Warner Bros., or what the studio hopes to get out of the suit. Speculation on Fox’s motives has run the avenues of the logical to the conspiratorial, but most everyone agrees that Fox wants some kind of scummy payday out of all this, considering the studio spent over $1 million trying (and failing) to develop a Watchmen film during the late 80’s and early 90’s.
In the meantime, Judge Fees has indicated that he will issue a more thorough ruling on the case in the weeks to come; he also stated that it is his hope that both studios can come to a settlement on the matter. For their part, Warner Bros. maintains that regardless of this setback, they will still premiere Watchmen in theaters on its slated release date of March 6, 2009. (But at this point is that even a promise they can make?)
But enough bad news. Enjoy your Christmas. Enjoy your family and loved ones. Enjoy good food, presents, and all the other positive things that will keep your mind off this ugly business. We’ll reconvene in a few days, when hopefully the future of Watchmen will have been decided.
And as ironic as it might sound in this context: Happy Holidays from Screen Rant!