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20th Century Fox Suing Over Warner Bros. Watchmen


The Fire Rises
May 19, 2007
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The Hollywood Reporter said:
20th Century Fox has initiated a legal battle against Warner Bros. over the rights to develop, produce and distribute a film based on the graphic novel "Watchmen."

On Friday, the studio sued Warners, claiming it holds the exclusive copyrights and contract rights to "Watchmen."

Warners plans to release next year a big-screen version of the popular comic book written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. The cast includes Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino and Malin Akerman. It is the studio's policy to not comment on pending litigation.

But Fox seeks to enjoin Warners from going forward with the project, saying in the lawsuit that it seeks to "restrain (Warner Bros. Pictures) from taking actions that violate Fox's copyrights and which stand to forever impair Fox's rights to control the distribution and development of this unique work."

Fox claims that between 1986 and 1990, it acquired all movie rights to the 12-issue DC Comics series and screenplays by Charles McKeown and Sam Hamm. In 1991, Fox assigned some rights via a quitclaim to Largo International with the understanding that the studio held exclusive rights to distribute the first motion picture based on "Watchmen," according to the lawsuit.

When Largo dismantled, the rights were transferred to producer Lawrence Gordon. Under a "turnaround agreement" between Fox and Gordon, the producer agreed to pay a buy-out price to Fox if he entered into any agreement with another studio or third party to develop or produce "Watchmen," among other things.

The project apparently bounced around to Universal and Paramount before returning to Warners. Now, Fox claims that neither Gordon nor Warners has paid the buy-out price or advised the studio of any other conditions required under the agreement, including procedures necessary to acquire the rights to "Watchmen" from Fox.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Do you guys think this will affect the production in anyway?
i'm sure they'll settle out of court...again I do have to say Fox is very sneaky about this.

And I swear to you, I think this was prompted by the recent Lord of the Rings lawsuit..
I also find it curious that only iesb has it.
Either this is:
1) Bull****, or
2) Fox is playing hardball with a projection that has been in development for years, and really just want to settle on their terms.

Only the 2nd requires elaboration.

The mere fact that they waited so long to file a claim sort of undermines their case. That is, unless WB and Fox have been quietly -- and in good faith -- attempting to hash this out for the past 18 months.

In other words, if Fox's claim were so serious, then they would have brought it before the court as soon as WB began work on pre-production.* This will be the first question any judge will have: if WB were developing Fox's property, then why didn't Fox raise these issues with the court before WB began pouring $100 million into this film?

I doubt that there is much precedence for a court halting production on a film this far along into the process. Worse case scenario is that WB coughs up some scratch to Rupert Murdoch (and it WON'T come out of the film's budget, people!)

* I knew when this was happening; so did you, and so did 20th Century Fox.
I spoke too soon.

I don't know if Fox can stop the production, really. I've seen any case of this nature happening with a big movie like this. They're too deep into it. If Fox gets their way because they make bad 88 minute movies, then there's a freakin' curse. Or at least, someone is pushing for a curse, and that someone is Rothman.
Thanks for the update, Rezzo...

It's clear what the "unspecified damages" are, no? It's the "buyout" that Fox feels like it got screwed out of. That, and attorneys fees, and the cash-equivalent of gravy. Whether someone at WB really ****ed up, or Fox is all wet, we can't really be sure. I can't imagine how this would interrupt production, as I don't see a judge actually granting the restraining order and halting production. This thing will get resolved, and the courts will obviously have to get involved to some degree. But no judge will see that it's in anyone's best interest to halt production and put a whole lot of people out of work just because Fox wants some cash. They will get their cash. If the film is 86'ed, then Fox cannot possibly get their cash, because the film can't won't be able to make money if it can't get into theaters. It's that simple.
More publicity for the film.
Doesn't Fox have enough comic book properties to mangle?
Something just doesn't seem right. Especially with production this far in development.
I hope Fox won't get this. Rothman will just arserape it. :csad:
Is it me, or is just about everything 20th Century Fox does really really evil ?

this sucks :down WB should have been more aware and Fox should've said something sooner!
They'll resolve the thing outside the court.
The sum Fox was expecting shouldn't be that high.
"Doesn't Fox have enough comic book properties to mangle?"


As long as Rothman is there, I WONT be seeing ANY of their comic book films.
this sucks :down WB should have been more aware and Fox should've said something sooner!

Why would they do that when they can make one of their chief competitors waste $150,000,000 and THEN say something?
Doesn't Fox have enough comic book properties to mangle?

LOL, I thought the same thing. If it wasn't enough that Fox was ruining comic book movies, they have to try to ruin one from WB that has the potential of being really good.

F Fox. :down
Why is Fox doing this now, when Watchmen is so far into development. If Fox was really serious about this they would have done something when the film was announced.
This better not damage the Watchmen film in any way - i think Watchmen is going to be great, and WB are going to do a much better job making the film than Fox would ever have.
Fox has no shame and their level of greed is unmatched in this industry.

This is such bull****...waiting this long and out of nowhere to just try and sue.
the lawsuit makes no sense because Fox waited until now to do it. Not only that, remember Paramount was in pre-production with Watchmen almost 3 years ago, and Fox didn't anything about it either.

Infact, for the past decade, Watchmen has been bouncing back and forth non-stop, from studio to studio. So why didn't Fox do anything about it back then?

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