Fox Watches the Watchmen's Lawyers, Gains More Ammunition in Lawsuit (updated)

Though some ink has been previously given to this story, now’s as good a time as any to mention that if 20th Century Fox gets its way, the highly anticipated Watchmen movie — which has already wrapped and been previewed in front of movie “luminaries” like Kevin Smith — may not even see the light of day thanks to a judge’s refusal to dismiss the lawsuit. According to sources, Fox said it would rather see the film killed instead of settling with Warner Bros. and collecting a percentage of the box office. This all came about when Warner Bros. picked up the project in a turnaround deal back in 1994, but Fox claims that it never sorted out the complete rights to the intellectual property. (Source: Variety)

As any one who has been raped by credit card interest charges knows, it’s the fine print that will kill you. When the customer service person you’ve been screaming at for the last half hour calmly says, “It was in the contract when you signed up for the card; there’s nothing I can do,” you’re the one who’s going to look like an idiot for saying, “Yeah, but who really reads those?” It is gross negligence on Fox’s part for not having checked their ownership documents all the way back in the ’90s, even if everyone thought the project was “great, but unfilmable” back then.

It’s also gross negligence on Warner Bros. part for having not checked up on those rights over the years, especially once they got a really good script together and signed Zack Snyder to direct. Don’t you think it would have behooved someone to have gone back to Fox, saying, “Yeah, listen, about those incomplete rights? Can we just give you some money now for the rest of them? We think we’ve got something good going, and we really want to avoid any 11th hour dramatics.”

It’s enough to make you wonder if Alan Moore deliberately put a curse on the movie version to this film.

UPDATE: EW says that their insiders at 20th Century Fox are more correct than the Variety insiders, and that they “want affirmation of ownership and/or restitution, and there are many scenarios by which Fox could get paid, including a cash settlement or distribution rights to the film.”

This story came on the heels of the predictable fanboy howling and boycott threat that accompanied the news articles on Monday. EW’s Jeff Jensen does at least go beyond the surface of the issue:

Fox filed its complaint back in February — just as Snyder was wrapping production on Watchmen. The assumption many are making is that Fox stood by and did nothing as Warner Bros. actively and publicly developed and produced a movie it had no right to make, and then, at a maximum moment of leverage, sandbagged its rival with a lawsuit. And yet, according to a Fox source, studio lawyers contacted Warner Bros. about the distribution rights issue several times prior to the start of production but were rebuffed.

But if you feel like wading through all the legalese yourself, check out the official documentation, courtesy of UncivilSociety.org

Posted on August 20, 2008 at 06:30 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: News

2 Responses

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  1. Written by Alex
    on 2008-08-20 at 19:33
    Permalink

    I’m really wondering if Fox has considered the fact that pissing off legions of fanboys and looking like vindictive jerks will lose them more money then the lawsuit will give them.

  2. Written by Trisha Lynn
    on 2008-08-20 at 21:36
    Permalink

    I’m not convinced they’re concerned with that, because the Hollywood Reporter is telling industry insiders that our voices aren’t good enough to make tons of money for them.

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i074bfb9c1a9902f7aefc6c56cdd58eeb

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