The lawsuit between Fox and Warner Bros. over the rights to Watchmen has reached its end. And it pretty much ended the way we all knew it would: Fox’s “Little Red Hen Syndrome“, combined with the alleged legal carelessness of Watchmen producer Larry Gordon, equaling out to Warner Bros. having to pay out tens of millions of dollars just to get Watchmen in theaters on March 6, 2009.
Details have not yet been revealed as far as dollar amounts, but it looks like it will be an upfront payment and a percentage of the box office. The original release date is still golden as well.
We here at Screen Rant take a look back on the ridiculous drama of the Watchmen lawsuit (hopefully for the last time!).
I can only say that I bet Alan Moore is somewhere laughing right about now, saying to himself, “This is exactly why I don’t mess with Hollywood.” [Well he wouldn’t put it quite like that, but you get the idea.] As of today, Fox and Warner Bros. have a reached a settlement regarding the Watchmen case, after nearly a year of drama that had fanboys panic stricken and holding their collective breaths in dread.
Only in Hollywood.
For those just joining us, this is what the case was basically about:
Larry Gordon, über producer of 80’s classics like Die Hard and Predator (and former Fox studio chief) made two deals with Fox to obtain the rights to Watchmen in 1991 and 1994. As a clever little footnote to those deals, Fox said that any producer who ever tried to make a Watchmen film was contractually obligated to contact Fox and obtain the last percentages of the studio’s rights to the property (which I guess Fox was keeping in its back pocket).
Seasoned super-producer that he is, Gordon allegedly failed to notify Fox before conveying the rights to Watchmen to Warner Bros., back in 2006. On December 8, 2008, Warner Bros. filed court papers stating that the studio “never received the very documents upon which Fox asserts its claims” until over a year after Gordon had supposedly sold them the Watchmen rights, and the film was already in production.
This leaves Gordon between a rock and a hard place, possibly looking at future lawsuits from both Fox and Warner Bros. Add to that Gordon’s long standing reputation for letting his attitude get the better of his judgment, and its no surprise that on December 24, 2008, Judge Larry Fees was already ruling in Fox’s favor, despite his original claim that he would delay the case until January 20th.
At this time Gordon is legally prohibited from producing any further evidence in regards to the case (made the judge mad – bad move), and Fox and Warner Bros. have reached an equitable settlement. Time will tell if Fox gets more out of the deal than a share of Watchmen‘s profits. (Like the distribution rights to the 1960’s Batman TV series, which Fox is rumored to have had its eye on.)
And for us the fans, it all ends up meaning nothing, just as the wisest among us predicted way back when. Watchmen will still be in theaters on March 6, 2009. Only question left is will it be as awesome as it’s looked so far (especially that Japanese trailer!).
Good to know that this mess is finally being cleaned up. (Now let’s all hope it stays that way!)