Last time we checked in on 20th Century Fox’s impending lawsuit against Warner Bros. over the rights to the Watchmen movie, mum was the word on how near or far the studios were in coming to a resolution.
Now comes word that a Los Angeles federal judge has pushed back the Watchmen trial date to January 20, 2009, after refusing to issue a ruling on whether Fox or Warner Bros. owned the proprietary rights to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons‘ groundbreaking graphic novel.
Talk about indecision.
The judge, Gary Allen Feess cited an impending criminal trial as the reason he was unable to make a ruling on the Watchmen case. Judge Feess also denied motions from both studios to make a pre-trial summary judgment, stating that there was too much room for interpretation in the contracts between Fox and Watchmen Producer Larry Gordon, and that the matter would have to be fully examined and settled at trial.
If your memory is a bit fuzzy: the lawsuit in question was originally filed by Fox back earlier this year. The studio claims that Gordon never honored the full stipulations of a deal he struck with Fox back in the mid-90’s when he bought out the rights to Watchmen, thereby nullifying any transfer of ownership. No explanation why Fox waited so long to cry foul against Gordon and Warner Bros. (but it would be nice to have that particular question answered).
Since the lawsuit came to light, the rumor mill has churned out more conspiratorial explanations, like the assertion that Fox is really after the rights to certain Warner Bros. owned properties, namely the 1960’s Batman TV series, which Fox owns but can’t release on DVD, since Warner Bros. owns the character rights to Batman and all other DC Comics characters. Whether that particular explanation is true or not, most people agree that Fox is hoping to get some kind of scummy payday out of all this.
For now Warner Bros. is sticking to its claim that it has done no wrong, and as a show of conviction, they are still insisting that Watchmen will premiere in theaters on its previously slated release date of March 6, 2009. That puts only about six weeks between the start of the court proceedings and the release of the film!
In the meantime, what do you think about the lawsuit? Is January 20th going to be a day of high anxiety for you? (It will be for me: if Fox wins this lawsuit no telling what could happen to Watchmen.) Sound off and let us know where you stand.