Possible Watchmen Movie Delay NOT Fox’s Fault?

Published 5 years ago by , Updated September 4th, 2012 at 8:37 am,

watchmeninsignia Possible Watchmen Movie Delay NOT Foxs Fault?

[UPDATE: A Los Angeles federal judge has set a Jan. 6 trial date for the Fox vs Warner Bros lawsuit, well ahead of the current release date.]

What an unbelievable mess this whole Watchmen movie fiasco has turned into. The average person has to ask themselves: How the heck does something like this happen? I mean, isn’t this why corporations have massive legal departments stocked chock full of everyone’s favorite people: lawyers?

Let’s take a look at the history of Watchmen in Hollywood to try to sort this all out.

The crux of the matter hinges on something in the movie industry known as “putting a film in turnaround.” Turnaround is basically a way for a studio that owns the rights to a property (in this case, Fox ownership of Watchmen) to “release” a project and allow another studio to make a film based on that property.

Of course the studio which owns the rights does not give this away for free, but depending on the specific arrangement either sells or “leases” the right to the other studio – in essence keeping a string attached which will allow them to recoup the cost of acquiring the property and possibly any development costs they’ve put into it, plus interest.

With me so far? Good.

You may not be aware of this, but the Watchmen project has been bouncing around Hollywood for over 20 years. Fox originally acquired the rights to the graphic novel back in 1987 and did intend to produce the film. Their plan was to have the original author, Alan Moore, write the screenplay. Unfortunately at the time they were not aware of Moore’s opinion regarding a film adaptation of his work – which was that he didn’t think it was suitable for a cinematic format.

When it seemed like they would not be able to get the project off the ground, Fox put Watchmen in turnaround to a number of studios over the years, none of which did anything with it. Ironically, the first studio to snatch up the rights when Fox made them available was – Warner Bros. They intended to put Joel Silver (Lethal Weapon, Die Hard) in charge as producer, Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys) as director and Sam Hamm (Tim Burton’s Batman) as screenwriter.

But Gilliam didn’t like the script, Silver was not able to raise enough money, and in the end the project languished for a number of years.

watchmenposter Possible Watchmen Movie Delay NOT Foxs Fault?

In 1991 enter producer Lawrence Gordon, a powerful Hollywood producer who was once a studio chief at 20th Century Fox and managed to secure the turnaround rights to Watchmen (remember, this means that Fox still owned the rights at a higher level).

In 2001 Universal took a shot at making the film with Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream) as director with Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin producing a script written by David Hayter (X-Men, X-Men 2). What killed THAT deal was the fact the Universal Studios did not want to entrust such a huge production to Hayter, who wanted to direct the film with Gordon’s blessing.

From there Gordon and Levin tried to get the film made by Revolution Studios, then Paramount, which wanted Aronofsky to direct (who dropped out due to schedule conflicts) and then Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy). Greengrass approached the project (still based on Hayter’s script) with the right sensibility and a Summer 2006 date was targeted as the release date. Unfortunately in the end budgetary issues killed the project at Paramount, when the studio didn’t want to spend $100 million to make the film.

So back into turnaround it went.

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43 Comments

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  1. Thanks for the lowdown Vic!

  2. I think because the film has allready been made the fans are still going to hold FOX responsable.

    If the film is pushed in any way from its release date I think the fans are gonna freak! 8-)

  3. I seriously considered boycotting upcoming releases from FOX. But I came to my senses and realized that there is no way enough people would do that to be able to make a difference. But Watchmen deserves to be seen. So far everything has looked good. Zack Snyder is a great director. The story, if you havent read it, do yourself a favor and read it. It is different from your average comic. This story needs to be shown on the big screen. I really hope it gets released.
    The fans will freak, but I dont know if a boycott or an internet petition is enough to stop whomever is responsible from preventing the release of this movie.
    Who will watch the Watchmen now?

  4. Yah, but fans would be stupid to blame someone who is not at fault. I’m sure a lot of people would be like “oh, it’s already made, just let it get released.” But those people do not have money invested in this and do not own the company. If they owned Fox and had a business to run where the bottom line is important, they would not have the same opinion.

    But ultimately in a lot of peoples’ minds, all that matters is whether or not they get to see the film in the time that they were hoping. People are generally selfish and only think about how things affect them so it’s pretty unlikely that this breakdown will have any effect on who people will blame for it.

    I personally like to hold people responsible for their own actions, so I typically do not like blame shifting. If this is Gordon’s mess up then this is Gordon’s mess up, simple as that. I’m sure there are certain people here who would disagree and would like to take the easy way out and blame Fox.

  5. Rofl wow Ken you seem to be a fox executive or something. Man if this film was released when it’s suppose to be it would somehow (don’t ask me how) cripple fox. They would never be able to recover from people seeing Watchmen.

  6. Man this thing is crazy, didn’t know all that went on!

    I heard somewhere down the line that Guillermo Del Toro was attached to this movie, do you know is this right?

  7. ?? Wow Daniel, funny seeing as how I was talking bad about Fox in another post when it seemed Fox was at fault with this whole thing. I think my comments are pretty consistent with the information I have at the time… But now that it is apparent that the fault is not Fox’s, and I point out I accept this new explanation since before I spoke badly of Fox for doing this, I am supposedly all pro-Fox??

    LOL, get real Daniel. Also funny considering I have completely slammed almost every comic book movie Fox has made… Oh yah, I definitely work for them… I’m sure you pride yourself in your deductive reasoning skills… :-D

  8. This is interesting to me largely because of the opportunity it could possibly provide for both studios to make more money than they would by simply releasing the film on time after (or before) coming to an agreement in arbitration.

    What better way to increase your ticket sales for a film that’s been 23 years in the making than to go to trial and delay the release yet another year, as may well happen in this instance? Interest in the project would only intensify. Payouts would only increase all around- from the fact that a judge allowed the case to proceed, we may assume Fox has a genuine legal grievance and a paper trail to back it up. Warner’s will undoubtedly settle. They probably just want to pay less than the requested settlement amount. And I bet that the payout of a settlement on a still-hypothetically successful film would be far less than for a demonstrably successful film.

    But Warner’s wins in the long term with fans because they can point at Fox as the bad guy in delaying a beloved classic’s adaptation from arriving in theaters on time; and they win on the money side because they a) are the principal investor in the production and have the greatest right to its profits and b) will probably claim damages in a countersuit for having to rework and reissue the very very expensive P&A they’ve no doubt already created and paid for, and this will lower the eventual settlement amount that is agreed upon- unless Fox wishes to contest the countersuit. When one considers just what Warner’s P&A budget on this must be, the amount of money Fox put into development back in the eighties must pale by comparison. This ought to be a point of contention.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, while a corporate lawsuit isn’t the stuff gossip venues like Page Six were built for, we are talking about Watchmen; such a mess may cause the film to be even more successful than we thought it would be, and that may not be a total accident.

  9. Wow Kovacs, sounds like something I’d cook up. :) Don’t forget the cash Fox invested could have been earning, if nothing else, interest..

    Now I’m not accusing anyone of being ignorant, no one feel offended, but maybe someone else’s perspective of WB might clarify or balance everyones opinion a little by looking here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE

  10. God damn, now my head hurts lol.

    And all i want to do is see the gorram movie. Events like this just what a depressing place this world can be on occasions.

    K

  11. Thanks for that vid Old Man. Yes, perspective and all that, but a great rant. Loved watching it.

    The fact FOX are after WB says a lot to me.

  12. @Mbuckingham

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard Guillermo’s name associated with Watchmen.

    Vic

  13. C’mon! Everybody can see why Fox tries to destroy the movie. They fear it could be X-Men done right and they want to avoid any competition. That’s why they don’t agree to accept monetary compensation from WB…

    And even if they own the rights to it…why should I care? Yes, I don’t run a business, I even don’t want to run one because I hate business and legal stuff like that…the only thing I do care about is seeing this movie, labeled WB or FOX or WOX or FB or Parafox or WarnerFox or Parabrothers Junior or what-so-freaking-ever…

    They should abolish copyright issues altoghter and make the entire world of TV and movies one giant franchise of public domain! WHO is makig the money doesn’t matter to me…the money must BE MADE to support further movies, seasons etc…not to fill anyone’s greedy pockets!

    Call me a communist…I don’t care…But I want to see that movie! And I’m going to boycott every FOX release as of today!

  14. That was just dumb, if Fox has rights to the film why would they be scared of competition, this would make them hella money!!! Watchmen and X-men would compete and both would make Fox rich. So no, they arent trying to destroy the movie. If someone sold your car, wouldnt you want money for it? Its their property. The movie is coming out so all the fanboys can stop getting all worked up about it.

  15. “They should abolish copyright issues altogether”
    Smike, odds are you wouldn’t feel that way if they were your copyrights. Take a look again at Harlan’s’ Video, that guy is upset enough about the issue, he’s unable to articulate his feelings with 100% coherency. For a seasoned writing pro like him, that says something right there. I suspect that wasn’t the first time the studios had tried, or did take advantage of him. I can sympathize with your feelings about business too, unfortunately it’s a fact of life. Plenty of people in business, or not will take advantage of you, if you let them.

  16. You’re right Ken I make it my goal to search for each and every post of yours and remember everything you said.

    It was pretty obvious thought that I was joking and didn’t really think you worked for fox. Any person of average intelligence could of figured it out. Sorry you didn’t get that.

  17. I get why Fox is doing this–there is some big money to be had here. The movie’s causing a huge stir already six months in advance. It’s gonna be huge, ESPECIALLY if it’s done right, but even if it’s not. Fox needs the money. They haven’t been doing so hot lately, and the next year or so’s going to be pretty bleak for everybody in Hollywood, with the writer’s strike last year stalling out movie production.

    I couldn’t really care much less if Warner loses a portion of their profits trying to keep Fox quiet, but I will be annoyed if the film is delayed. I wish they’d just settle already.

  18. “They should abolish copyright issues altoghter and make the entire world of TV and movies one giant franchise of public domain! WHO is makig the money doesn’t matter to me…the money must BE MADE to support further movies, seasons etc…not to fill anyone’s greedy pockets!”

    Without the copyright laws, the creators would not be able to make a living from their work. If we can’t make a living that way, we’ll have to find some other way to make a living, and that means we may not have the incentive to keep producing the stories that entertain you, even assuming we do still have the time and energy to do so after doing whatever it is we’re forced into doing for a living.

  19. I don’t know Daniel, I guess I just figured you were not someone of average intelligence. :-D

    My point was just how stupid it sounded for you or anyone to think I’m defending Fox or pro-Fox in any way just because I don’t want to blindly blame them like a fool regardless of the information at hand. But if you want to do that, like I always tell you, you’re free to do whatever you want. ;-)

  20. You are defending fox in this post you can’t deny that. No matter how much crap you talk about them in other posts in that post you defended them.

    Personally if fox started all this earlier I wouldn’t of cared as much but they waited to see if people were actually gonna be interested. I also don’t care if they get money out of it it’s simply not a big deal. However trying to ban or delay the movie is ridiculous.

  21. You just dont get it do ya? You cant read? They didnt just start this! Fox has been threatening for a long time. The threats didnt work so now its time to take legal mesures

  22. I can read fine. The problem is they should of taken legal action a year ago. For being a major studio they sure are stupid. Threats are usually meaningless. They should of started this legal action a year ago or even half a year ago. They waited to really push it until they saw the hype and the fact that it was having good responses.

  23. But Daniel that knife cuts both ways! Why didn’t WB listen to them when they claim to have made overtures to finalize a deal for all the rights? Look when you do business, especially with equals you don’t just ignore them and hope they’ll go away. That won’t happen and they’ll naturally be angry for being ignored.

    If Fox would have taken action at the time your talking about then, they wouldn’t get anything for their trouble. Try to run your household like that.

    Lets see, Fox would be out purchase cost of the property, any development cost, that means a script writer all the office work all the employee time spent plus legal fees. Dump on top of that the lawsuit costs.. You get the picture! The business heads are responsible to the investors in the company. None of them are going to flush their job and maybe their career for us or another studio.

    Besides you gotta agree, this whole thing isn’t over yet. We’ll be hearing more about this mess as time goes on, and I wouldn’t be surprised if down the road, I might have to change sides on the issue myself. Be patient and see if more facts come to light.

  24. Um, no, I think Daniel really do lack reading ability. I’ve NEVER defended Fox… Go ahead and look for it. I personally hate every comic book movie they’ve EVER made… Ok, a few of the X men movies were OK, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go… I’ll give you a cookie if you can quote me defending Fox. And before you go “aha” and go quoting me attacking that idiot that wants to cover up Fox posters with signs, notice I’m ATTACKING that guy, not defending Fox, I think he’s a moron and it doesn’t matter what company he was planning on trying to intimidate. I would have insulted him regardless. But go ahead and quote that if you like, you won’t get a cookie for it. ;-)

  25. What does liking their movies have to do with any of this? I’m simply talking about you defending their actions. Are you or are you not defending their actions here?

    By the way thanks for being a respecful poster Old man. I agree it’s not over yet and it’s not likely to be until right around the time the film is suppose to come out. At this point though it’s simply about greed. Fox has poured next to nothing in to the watchmen rights and had they started legally action just a few months earlier they could of easily of gotten their cash back and possibly a little extra on the top. Given how fox has been performing over the last year it seems like they seem to make more money by letting other companies make their films and then taking legal action against them. I guess in the grand scheme of things it’s not that bad Fox gets to make money and we get to see films not made by fox.

  26. Um, well, if you know how to read the article, apparently it isn’t even “their” actions that need to be defended or attacked in this case. This whole fiasco is of Lawrence Gordon’s doing. Unless you’ve not paid any attention to the article at all…

    So no, I’m not “defending” Fox’s actions since apparently there were no actions to defend! Gordon mucked it up, so why don’t we PRETEND like we have some brains and blame him for it instead of just pointing fingers at the easiest target?

    You can replace Fox with Paramount, WB, Sony Pictures, Hewlett Packard, The Joker, Richard Simmons… the bottom line is, the fault belongs to Lawrence Gordon. Who this other party is that was wrongfully blamed for this fiasco is irrelevant, so I’m not at all “defending” Fox…

    But I like how you continuously make these erroneous statements about how pro-Fox I am just because I’m not taking the easy way out and am actually trying to place blame where it belongs…

  27. Actually the article says that, while it is his fault, the question remains why FOX doesn’t bring him to court, not WB.
    The answer to that is easy, and why few have any sympathy with them.

    Instead of going after the one who wronged them, they have targetted the movie. To FOX, movies are just products, but to us fans it is a lot more. It shows the difference between us and so I have no interest in their view, right or wrong.

  28. UPDATE: A Los Angeles federal judge has set a Jan. 6 trial date for the Fox vs Warner Bros lawsuit, well ahead of the current release date.

    Vic

  29. I love how you continue to try and insult me in every paragraph of every post that you make. I said you were pro fox in only one post that I made. Maybe you are the one who learns to read. Defending this one action and being all around pro fox are very different. Things fox is suing and you don’t see anything wrong with the way they are doing it. So yes YOU ARE defending this action. How do you not get that. When you say that they are doing nothing wrong that is defending what they are doing because you are saying it isn’t wrong. Pretty simple stuff. Please though feel free to continue to argue this point with 6 more paragraphs about how much of an idiot you think I am. Because lets face it insults are what your best at.

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