Watchmen Movie Banned From Release?

Published 7 years ago by , Updated July 7th, 2014 at 10:04 am,

watchmeninsignia Watchmen Movie Banned From Release?

This is the post I never, ever, wanted to write. The post I never, ever thought I’d have to write. But writing it I am, scarcely believing the words even as I type them: the Watchmen movie is embroiled in a legal battle that, (in a worst case scenario,) could end up having it be barred from release, indefinitely.

What evil cabal would ever concoct such an insidious plot as to kill the long-awaited adaptation of our favorite graphic novel of all time? There is only one organization that evil: 20th Century Fox.

The legal broo-ha-ha started back in February of this year, when Fox filed a copy infringement and breach of contract suit against studio Warner Bros., which owns the current version of Watchmen being helmed by director Zack Snyder (300). Fox’s claim was that they had obtained the rights to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ genre-shattering graphic novel, and all subsequent film endeavors related to it, between the years of 1986 and 1991.

But when attempts to make the film in the 80′s and early 90′s stalled, the usual legal gymnastics ensued, with Fox selling off partial rights of Watchmen to other interested companies (who ultimately went under), all with the understanding that Fox would still hold the exclusive right to distribute any Watchmen film, sequels or spin-offs (like “The Black Freighter” tie-in) that got made down the line, unless an sizable buy-out fee was paid to the studio.

watchmen all Watchmen Movie Banned From Release?

Well, after nearly two decades of starts and stops and almosts, Watchmen was finally tossed into the laps of Warner Bros. by producer Larry Gordon, who had obtained the rights to the film in a turnaround agreement with Fox in 1994, with the stipulation (according to Fox) that the studio’s original terms of contract still be honored, including the buy-out fee. According to the Fox’s lawsuit, Gordon and Warner Bros. failed to make good on that promise.

After Fox filed suit, Warner Bros. immediately filed a motion for dismissal with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claiming to have done no wrong. As of this past Friday, the judge has thrown out that motion, allowing Fox to proceed full-steam with its lawsuit.

With Watchmen having already wrapped its principal shoot, and gearing up for its March 6, 2009 release, Fox is urging that the case to be fast-tracked, and, if this latest court action is any indication, the judge will heed that call. Even worse, Fox isn’t just looking to dip into Warner Bros.’ pockets for profits: they’d rather see the film banned from theaters altogether.

“When you have copyright infringement, there are some damages you never recover,” said a source close to the litigation.”

This makes me SICK TO MY STOMACH. I’m going to try not to curse, but WTF is wrong with 20th Century Fox???? To put this in terms of a rap beef: quit playah-hatin’.

Seriously though, I feel like this is all a vile bit of strategy to help Fox have a better $ummer at the multiplex in 2009. Think about it: if Watchmen gets knocked off the ’09 lineup, it leaves the comic book lane wide open for Fox’s own properties, most notably X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The simple truth is that Fox has reason to be scared: since the first trailer premiered, then the fan fervor at this year’s Comic-Con, and now acclaimed directors like Kevin Smith spouting gospel about how freakin good Watchmen truly is, the movie has been blown-up as one the most highly anticipated releases of 2009. (Even the original graphic novel has started flying off shelves!

watchmen comic comp1 Watchmen Movie Banned From Release?

But the truth of the matter is that studios have been trying to make Watchmen happen since the 80′s. Even in recent years, industry heavyweights like Paul Greengrass and Guillermo Del Toro were courted to get a Watchmen film up and going, and nothing ever came of it. What Fox is doing to Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder is like the old man who has popped a handful of Viagra with no success, getting angry with the young guy who walks by and knocks off the hot-chick, no problem. No one respects that old coot.

I solemnly swear: if Watchmen ends up on the list of great movies that almost made it, I will be leading the charge to make Fox PAY. I will slam every one of the crap movies and TV shows they put out, and use every bit of my blogger-power (it’s about 3/4 as potent as flower-power) to downright brainwash every suggestible reader into boycotting any movie released by 20th Century Fox until Watchmen sees the light of day. (Sorry Wolvy, you’ll be my first victim. Just to let these stuffed-suits know I ain’t playing!) Fox will come to learn the TRUE meaning of the word “backfire,” and I think I speak for a great many Watchmen fans when I say that.

Are you trembling with fear at the thought of Watchmen getting the ax? Is your stomach churning with a mix of nerves and disgust like mine is? Damn being silent, let your battle-cry be heard on this one!

Sources: Slashfilm, Watchmen Comic Movie, IGN, Film o Filla, Deadline Hollywood Daily, Variety

TAGS: Watchmen
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  1. Greengrass, Del Toro, and I even read a script a few years back for a Terry Gilliam version too. (And as much as I like Gilliam, thank God that wasn’t the one to get made). I agree Kofi, this has the smell of a publicity thing along similar lines to that recent Owlship business, or even – possibly – the Punisher hoo-hah. I’m on a paranoid tip at the moment.

    “Ve are NIhilists. Ve believe in NUssing…”

  2. Great pic btw.

  3. This is completely ridiculous! After reading this post I can say that my day is officially ruined (unless somehow the results to this mess gets cleaned up). I’ve been pumped for Watchmen, yet tried to contain my excitement because I hate to over-hype any film. But now with all of this legal stuff putting the release of Watchmen in jeopardy, I cannot help but begin to panic. Damn you Fox!

  4. why are you mad at Fox? If they have the rights to the film then they have the right take legal action. Its like Marvel making a Spider-Man film, you think Sony would just stand by and let that happen?

  5. This is incredibly vain on Fox’s part. To think that they can use the court system to make sure that their movies make money by preventing the release of a rival product. This is just business as usual for an ownership that has already ruined the television news industry and is gunning to be the biggest cock on the block.

    I’m not sure about their legal right to stop the movie, don’t have all of the information at my fingertips, but rest assured that the only thing that they can do, and any sane judge worth his/her salt with judicious temperament can do is force Warner Bros. to pony up damages to Fox.

    The idea is that the film is largely in the can and is as close to a finished product, short of final edits and visual/fx being laid in, and judges can hardly make a studio stop, especially when they (Warner Bros.) has a stake in the company that originally released the graphic novel in the first place (DC Comics.)

    But if the bastards at Fox do manage to derail the greatest comic book movie of all time (my opinion, of course) then I will join with everyone in the world and make sure that none of Fox’s products is left untainted by the arrogance of Fox and their thuggish tactics.

    We will not be denied our Watchmen. I’ve waited for as long as this film has been in development to be denied this opportunity. I/We will see this film on the big screen in ’09, and Fox will know the power of its film audience to make sure to put them in their place.

  6. It’s true that Fox did have the rights to The Watchmen. Yet, relating the whole thing to a what if over Marvel and Sony on Spider-Man is completely ridiculous. Seeing as Sony has actually made good on its rights to the Spider-Man franchise, and made quite a bit of money on it. It is understandable that Sony wouldn’t let Spidy go.
    However, Fox has owned the rights for Watchmen for about 20 years, and failed to adapt it. Yet, instead of selling the rights away to someone more interested. They held on to it (with no will to try to move forward).
    In my book, I would have to tell the CEO’s a fox to go screw themselves.
    This is just as annoying as when Disney decided to profit off of SAW weekend this year. By releasing HSM3 (I would rather die then see that move), and of course the argument on how many things are wrong with that damn movie going to the big screen. Plus what they are doing to Pixar. THE HELL WITH DISNEY TOO!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Kofi – sorry, what I said wasn’t exactly what you meant by strategy, was it? Manufacturing some kind of dispute over the movie’s release as a kind of “reality intersects the comic world intersects Alan Moore’s tribulations” tactic rang alarm bells in the same way that Liz’s suggestion did on the Owlship thread. Maybe I’m reading WAY too much into it all.

  8. Oscar,

    Do they? And even if the judge rules that they do– have you ever not been mad at the guy in the story who waits for the hero to win, then pulls the plug?

    This movie’s existence has been around for a while, much further back than February. If Fox were to take legal action, it should’ve been done way before the movie ever got serious.

    Kofi, I’m right beside you with the boycott of Fox movies– not even Wolverine could top my love for Rorschach.


  9. If what Fox is saying is true, then you should be mad at Warner for not honoring their word that they would pay Fox. If Fox is doing this just to win the top box office of summer 2009 then you are completely right to be mad. I guess will have to see how the trial goes.

  10. Can I sue Fox for mental distress because this is mentally distressing me.

    I’m in on a Fox boycott as well if this goes to worst case scenario. Though I was really looking forward to Terminator, buuut I suppose I can wait for download….

    lets hope the judge has read Watchmen ;)

  11. This action by FOX wont hold up, theres nothing to worry about. 8-)

    The Watchmen film will come out, and theres nothing FOX will be able to do about it.

    Theres no-way Warner Brothers would make this film without Iron_Clad rights to own and distribute.
    I see this entire case being thrown out within a few weeks. :-)

  12. well ,I will be boycotting Fox in every way if this comes to pass.

  13. Fellas – I think blipvert has got a great idea. Remember the mass sending of ‘nuts’ to CBS to support Jericho. Let’s fashion some of Comedian’s pins and send them en masse to FOX? I think a strong show of support for production of such an iconic graphic novel from our generation will let those guys know what the customer wants.

    Second phase of attack – and I hope Logan forgives me – boycott Wolverine. Thoughts?

  14. No worries friends, nothing will stop us from enjoying this flick next year.

    This redonkulous case will fail and/or some buy-out fee will be paid.

    What’s really stupid about all of this is how Fox waited until AFTER the film was made, and AFTER all th hype got created.

    Those friggin tools, after what they did to the X-men franchise, to Joss Whedon, and their many other acts of intentional-retardation, I hate them even more now. And I never thought it possible

  15. FOX : “And the fans of this monumental work will cry out, ‘give us this dream’…And I will whisper ‘No…’”.

    I, as a screenwriter and ardent fan of this work am not surprized by this flagrantly cheap,underhanded,monkey sh*t move by Fox. I have dealt with them in the past personally and via representation, and all I can say is this is the same kind of “nobody gets thiers till I get mine” way of doing business. The only way we will ever Fix Fox is to call them out publicly, boycott their films, and e-bomb em relentlessly. Short of that, I’m sorry to say they will continue to poison the water hole with their rediculous and cavalier behavior.

    Fox? Perhaps Fux would be a more suitable label…
    I’m out,


  16. Dont worry the movie will be released, even if all goes badly on the legal front a large wad of cash will make everything alright, i guaruntee it!

  17. There is no way in hell that this movie won’t be released.

    Fox is posturing for big $$$ from WB.


  18. Why do I have a feeling that Alan Moore is somewhere, out there, laughing…


  19. Un-Foxing-believable.

    Hair brained legal action.

    Upper reasoning leaving, must smash puny Foxing Fox… arrgghhhhh

  20. FOX, pulled some legal bs with Chris Carter as well, but that was years before the X-Files film was shot, and in the long run Chris won.

    (IMO),,, Unless the Judge is payed off, FOX wont get anything on this…and the release date wont change.

  21. The movie is gonna come out, like a Vic said. Nothing is gonna stop it. But i still think everyone has it all wrong with being mad at Fox. Fox didnt wait till it was done filming, they brought up the case a while back. So be mad at WB for teasing you guys. They shouldnt have made the movie if they werent 100% sure that they had all the rights to the film. So anyways none of that matters cuz its gonna come out. Even if they have to pay Fox or give them a share they will still make a lot of money due to the hype behind it.

  22. I don’t know the details,but if Fox owns the copyrights to the Watchmen it doesn’t matter if they have owned them 20 years or 20 minutes,they have legal rights to it and deserve some sort of compensation.

  23. Fox Studios, aren’t these the same guys that handled Firefly/Josh Whedon so well? Then they realised that they had made such a major gaffe that they made sure to sink the franchise from being successful elsewhere? I wouldn’t be too sure that these guys are going to go away before getting their pound of flesh/payola, after all they got lawyers too just sittin around sharpening pencils.

  24. Clean Talking Chimp, check out the link that Heath put up,,, 8-)

  25. Evil corporation? I was thinking Walmart was suing over the bloody smiley face…

    I have to echo a couple of other sentiments though; if fox has the movie rights (not the same as the copyright, fyi) then they do have legal recourse. They’re timing of this is highly suspicious. To wait until now to do some thing about a movie that every Joe Blogger has known about for the last year or so is ridiculous. Everyone knew Warner Bros was making this…

  26. So stop hatin on Fox, hate WB for not doing their homework.

  27. If I were Fox I would have waited until after the film made its money .
    I guess they figure they get a bigger payday from WB by threatening the films release.

  28. The BUX or BOX network. The soc network. Better put a black and blue eye on that Smiley Koffi.. no wait the centers black.. WHITE…. No… Oh He#L give me the Torgo’s… :’(