Fox Wins Watchmen Lawsuit

Published 6 years ago by , Updated December 28th, 2008 at 4:37 pm,

watchmen movie button Fox Wins Watchmen Lawsuit

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.

rorschach protesting Fox Wins Watchmen Lawsuit

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!

Source: Variety

TAGS: Watchmen
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  1. BOO! But I have two schools of thought on this matter: didn’t WB learn after they faced something similar with Dukes of Hazzard, which saw them forking over millions just to release that film? (I saw a good chunk of it–not a great film, considering.)

    And Fox? Why did they wait so long, indeed?

    My thought is this: WB will give Fox some money upfront. I’m not happy with it, but it could be worse.

    Happy Holidays, everyone, regardless!


  2. Kofi

    Thanks for the update. A couple of buddies of mine and I were talking about this last night. I would like to say it would be a dangerous thing for Fox to screw up the release date. I would like to say that but Fox is a huge corporation and this is a mere blip on their radar. Our only advantage is that they took action on the lawsuit (ironically) and realize how big of a potential money maker Watchment will be. My prediction – at worst will we see a delay of the release date until summer.

    A later release date upsets me personally. I’m in the military and have a potential deployment coming up. It would’ve worked perfectly on a March 6 release but anything later and I’ll have to wait for the DVD release. Hrrmmmm. Don’t know if I can wait to see Rorschach in action that long.


  3. Wingnut:

    God bless, man. They had BETTER let you get a look at Watchmen before you have to go serve again. Damn, Fox, that’s messed up!

  4. Fox will get a chunk of the box office receipts. They’ll get money off it and having not spent one penny on production at that.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t worry. I imagine it gets released on time. FOX execs are just counting the days now as well. That’s all that changed…

  5. Fox says that they contacted WB before production began of these legal matters, but WB claims they never knew about it until February. While I’m not a big fan of Fox for various reasons, these are both huge companies, and thus, I really don’t know who to believe. What I do know is that, it is almost certain now that the film will be delayed even more and some people are predicting a 2011 release. I’m kind of thinking (hoping) that we’ll only lose a few months, but who knows now.

    Mind you, I don’t get why both these studios seem to thin Watchmen is the Holy Grail. They both seem to think this may be as lucrative as The Dark Knight and I don’t see that happening at all. Even if Watchmen is as good as The Dark Knight as far as quality goes, TDK had much better marketing going for it and also had the added bonus of a) being a sequel to a really good movie and b) being a Batman film… almost everyone knows who Batman is. This ensured the success of TDK, but now everyone’s thinking “Oh, because of TDK, comic book movies may actually bring in more money!” and frankly, Watchmen won’t.

    Outside of comic book fans, the average person on the street has no idea what the Watchmen is. Same person knows exactly who Batman and Spider-man are (as for Ironman, that had Robert Downey Jr as it’s selling point). Watchmen has almost nothing going for it, from the trailers we’ve seen, we’re seeing no big stars, the premise hasn’t been laid down and the story seems pretty average (yes, for those of us who’ve read the comic book, it’s far from average, but to someone who’s simply seen the trailer and knows nothing of the books… average). Why exactly would the average movie goer want to see this movie? The action? The trailer showed a lot of it, but they’re going to be disappointed with the actual movie when they see it then (if Snyder has stuck closely to the source material, which we’re told he has). Frankly, the movie will likely be a success as far as making back three times its budget goes, but I doubt it’ll be more than a sleeper hit that’ll achieve the same cult status the comic book has instead of the movie going event of the year like TDK.

  6. If this leads to the delay of the film,
    I will boycott all Fox movies until they relese Watchmen.
    And if they mess with the final cut ,
    My boycott is PERMANENT!

  7. Joshi have you considered that all this legal bs is actually becoming a viral marketing campaign?

    Also Kofi, the ruling on Wednesday only gave FOX the distribution rights. I don’t believe the case is completely settled…

    My prediction is that the two studios are gonna play this out and use it as hype to bring in a huge opening weekend crowd. The rest will mostly be settled behind the scenes.

    The film will come out as scheduled, and become a huge hit partly because of all this legal hype.

  8. We’re all thinking it so I’ll just say it…Screw FOX.

  9. Yeah 790 I know that they only got distribution rights but in a case like this…that’s considered a win. The viral thing hasn’t escaped my consideration but this really feels like Fox trying to cash in on a property they thought wasn’t lucrative. Like a child ignoring a toy until another kid picks it up and has fun with it.

  10. Well yeah that’s obvious, however you will see that both Studios will make a lot of money on this controversy.
    WB shot them self in the profit margin however in the end they won’t loose any money. I have a feeling “Watchmen” is going to break 600+ mil easy…
    Its gonna be huge overseas.!!!

    This case isn’t over yet,,, ;-)

  11. How can you spend so much money making a film that you dont any rights to? How is it possible that WB didnt do all their homework to try and see who had the rights? Im positive Fox called them up and let them know that they were the ones with the rights, WB just simply ignored them. Why do people keep blaming Fox? Of course they are file a lawsuit, now they basically won. Fox hasnt had any good movies recently, you cant blame them for wanting to cash in on something that belongs to them.

  12. 790, yes it could well be a ploy, but from WB’s standpoint, it’d generate more loss for them, they’re already sharing distribution with Paramount, if they allowed Fox to share as well, there’d be little left for WB.

    And really, who cares about all of this but those of us who care about the movie? I don’t see this creating any extra buzz among people who weren’t already wanting to see it.

  13. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out…is Fox going to want a credit for the film or just some money? can WB file some sort of appeal or countersuit….this is very intriguing

  14. Sure it doesn’t look good for WB however, I still think this will NOT interfere with the release date.
    Time will tell,,,

  15. Avoiding FOX movies is always a good idea. ;)

    I’m just glad I’ve ordered the Watchmen graphic novel for Christmas. (still waiting)

  16. The general public really isn’t on to this, but there are some week spots for Fox. Imagine what would happen to the producers, actors and critics if during CommicCom during all Fox presentations the crowd started chanting “Watchmen … Watchmen…” not yelling, not cursing… It would through off the marketing and completely unnerve any suits in attendance… that is where the stink of potential failure or percieved backlash would be increadible.

  17. OK, what did I do when I was alive to warrant this punishment to hell?! :-(

    I knew this would happen; just look at how this country is going: deficit is through the roof, we are becoming more scialist day after day, housing market is shot (well, it’s on it’s way back up), now this. This movie will get shown and Fox will get millions without lifting a finger in it’s production; WB, hopefully, will make a profit.

    I don’t think “Screw Fox” is a strong enough phrase. :-(

  18. “Outside of comic book fans, the average person on the street has no idea what the Watchmen is.”

    The “average person on the street” also doesn’t know what the movie “Milk” is yet it’s up for Acadamy Awards. Watchman is the comic book worlds “Milk”. It’s hardcore comics so any studio getting to lay claim to its creation is, like Acadamy Awards movies, more of a pin to brag about than a money maker.

  19. @Rob

    I never argued any differently to what you just said, I was just making a point, the movie may not be (of have been, as of me writing the post you’re quoting) a big money maker when it opens.

    That said, considering all this legal buzz going around right now, when the movie does open, it likely will open bigger than before simply because some people will have heard of the lawsuit.