20th Century Fox owns Watchmen distribution rights, says judge

watchmen-noWhether you believe in him or not, Santa Claus dropped a major piece of coal in every comic book cinephile’s stocking this year.

For it was on Christmas Eve that Variety reported that a Los Angeles federal judge declared that due to the tangling copyright issues, 20th Century Fox has a legal right to distribute Zack Snyder’s Watchmen movie.

Judge Gary Allen Feess is now comics geek-public enemy number one for making this surprise announcement in advance of the original January 20 trial date and the March 2009 release date which Warner Bros. has refused to take off the books. Now that release date is in more critical danger if Fox refuses to back down and wants to take over on distribution without having fronted all the production costs, for free.

Feess said that he’d give a more detailed ruling later, and I’ll be on pins and needles till then.

Posted on December 25, 2008 at 07:27 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: News

6 Responses

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  1. Written by Trevor
    on 2008-12-25 at 10:05
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    What a load of crap! This is just another example about why Hollywood doesn’t work as a money-making entity – because they’re less about telling a good story and more about turning a profit and screwing each other over. Ultimately, it’s the audience that suffers in the end.

  2. Written by MO
    on 2008-12-25 at 18:18
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    Well, I guess that’s what’s called capitalism: Making a profit.

  3. Written by Duloth
    on 2008-12-26 at 09:14
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    …. How sad that a judge ruled pre-emptively in favor of a company that purchased the rights to produce a movie as opposed to one that had no legitimate rights. Hopefully Time/Warner takes this as a lesson for the future and doesn’t try to blatantly and publicly steal something again. Whoever managed to push ‘lets make a movie about the most award-winning comic ever!’ bit past the lawyers without appropriately securing rights first ought to be shot.

  4. Written by Trisha Lynn
    on 2008-12-27 at 09:24
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    @Duloth: I pretty much said something similar when we first covered this story. Both parties are to blame right now, Fox for waiting till February of this year to bring their suit about and Warner Bros. for not making sure that their distribution rights were solid as concrete.

    And what I didn’t want to say in the article is that this is a “no-win” situation for everyone involved.

  5. Written by SomeUnregPunk
    on 2008-12-30 at 16:56
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    Actually from a business point of view, this was the best time for Fox to bring this suit. If everything works out for Fox, the only loss in this for them is the lawyer fees.

  6. Written by BlackBooks
    on 2009-01-06 at 21:45
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    Personally, I find Fox’s timing to be highly suspect. They had over 2 years to say or do something, anything, to let WB know about their claim to Watchmen. To do it now, after WB spent $100 million or more filming the “unfilmable,” is tantamount to the school bully beating up the nerd on the day of the science fair, stealing his project, and putting it forth as his own work. I encourage everyone to write polite, articulate, ANGRY letters to Fox demanding they stop rattling the saber and let the fans see what they’ve been aching to see for 23 years.

    “Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? (Who watches the watchmen?)” –Juvenal

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