WATCHMEN: this is getting uglier

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Many late night holiday-themed movements in the WATCHMEN case, and they are enough to make a movie fan’s nerves as frayed as the collar on a pitbull. It seems that, yes, Fox is going to try to stop the movie’s release:

An attorney for 20th Century Fox says the studio will continue to seek an order delaying the release of ‘Watchmen.’

U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess last week agreed with Fox that Warner Bros. had infringed its copyright by developing and shooting the superhero flick, scheduled for release March 6.

Feess said Monday he plans to hold a trial Jan. 20 to decide remaining issues.

Fox claims it never fully relinquished story rights from its deal made in the late 1980s, and sued Warner Bros. in February. Warner Bros. contended Fox isn’t entitled to distribution.

Warner Bros.’ attorney said Monday he didn’t know if an appeal was coming, but thinks a trial is necessary and a settlement unlikely.


Warners fired back with a statement of their own:

“We respectfully but vigorously disagree with the Court’s ruling and are exploring all of our appellate options. We continue to believe that Fox’s claims have no merit and that we will ultimately prevail, whether at trial or in the Court of Appeals. We have no plans to move the release date of the film.”


Jeff Trexler has detailed analysis and links to the court documents so you can follow along at home, including this nugget:

These three filings in particular provide detailed allegations as to how Warner Brothers got into this mess. In a nutshell, Fox claims that it has evidence that Warner Brothers initially relied on an inaccurate chain of title provided by Paramount. Once Warner Brothers was aware of Fox’s documented claims, it nonetheless decided to proceed in a deliberate “business calculation” that it would be more profitable to deal with a court case than clear the rights before making Watchmen.


So for everyone blaming Fox for waiting until the movie was all but in the can to foul the Wheaties, it seems that WB went into this knowing they were gambling with the law. For more, check out the site Filmesq, which has more in-depth analysis and document linkage.

Finally, while fans may be fretting over seeing Carla Gugino in a perky superhero outfit, Paul O’Brien has a useful observation in the comments. Whatever the legal problems here, there’s got to be a dollar amount that will make things all good again — much to WB’s chagrin.

Comments

  1. Maybe, Alan Moore does have magic powers, and has cursed this film.

  2. Kenny says:

    Hee hee hee! I can’t be the only one enjoying the irony of watching WB try to defend the rights to Watchmen as their own. I’m really both that hoping Fox makes them pay through the nose and the movie bombs! (Although, Fox will probably get a healthy percentage of the gross, so I hope the percentage is *really* healthy and the movie bombs!)

    And this stuff:

    Once Warner Brothers was aware of Fox’s documented claims, it nonetheless decided to proceed in a deliberate “business calculation” that it would be more profitable to deal with a court case than clear the rights before making Watchmen.

    That’s first year law school contracts class stuff. One of the first things they taught us in law school was sometimes it’s more profitable to break the contract and pay the settlement. I have no doubt that’s what the WB attorneys thought.

  3. Angry Girl says:

    When times get tough what does Warner do? they sue. Sweet revenge for screwing over Alan Moore. Time to break out that Crapman movie profits and pay their lawyers $300 bucks an hour to drag things out as always.

  4. Capper says:

    Fox should only be entitled to an injunction preventing the release of the movie if it can show that it does not have an adequate remedy at law, i.e. that money damages are not adequate. Warner will likely argue that the court should not enjoin the release of the movie, but instead should allow Warner to simply pay damages to Fox if it is wrong on the merits. As The Beat points out, this is really about the Benjamins, which cuts against Fox’s request for an injunction.

    In light of typical Hollywood “accounting” practices, it is possible that Warner’s plan is to release the movie and then attempt to show that it did not make a “profit” when it argues about damages to Fox. Since Fox probably uses the same bogus accounting practices (which are used to cheat anyone who has “net” participation in a movie) as Warner does, Fox will not be able to effectively argue against Warner’s sham accounting procedures.

    It is hard to have sympathy for Hollywood titans like Fox and Warner. At least the case will interesting to watch, even if we can’t watch the movie.

  5. It’s a slow news week, so I understand why everyone’s writing about this, but seriously: Does anyone honestly believe that this film will be delayed because of a lawsuit? Settling in some fashion is in everyone’s best interests. It will happen–all this shit talk is just lawyer foreplay.

  6. Would they be stupid enough to stop the movie from being released? They both almost deserve what would happen next. Watchmen would likely be the most downloaded, pirated, bootlegged, and whatever other adjective you want to fashion for that sort of thing film ever created. People selling bootleg dvds would make a killing, and comic book conventions would have to be full of police officers because the guys selling those discs are going to as popular with the cops as they are with the attendees. In fact, the cops might not get to arrest them because their tables would be surrounded like the DC booth at Comic-Con during the oversized bag giveaway time. And it will get out, one way or another. Some disgruntled employee or huge fan is going to sell a digital copy to some guy, and it’ll explode from there.

    Besides, I don’t want those lucky bastards in Portland to be the only ones who got to see it.

  7. Thomax Green says:

    I just hope the movie is better than the comic. I know everyone loves it, thinks it’s genius, but in my opinion it was boring crap, not a classic.

    The two studios can fight all they want but if it flops, who will really give a damn.

    I’ll be laughing at that point.

  8. Thomax, if Watchmen is boring crap, what do you consider exciting classics of the graphic novel genre?

  9. Steve Taylor says:

    Aw,…banana oil! I didn’t want to see the dumb old thing anyways!

  10. RIGHT NOW – I feel like walking out of my office of Sony Pictures Television in Westwood – pausing on my way to blow a raspberry out my ass to those idiots at that Giant Mormon church who sunk a lot of dough in getting Proposition 8 passed at the polls – and make my way to Century City – and assume my Dr. Manhattan guise at the back lot entrance of 20th Century Fox ( which is behind the Fox Plaza building – you know where they shot Die Hard??) and then glide my way over to some of my co-workers at Fox ( who paid me very well, BTW) and punch out a few of my ex-workers and dry to rationize with them – WHAT THE F–K ARE YOU THINKING?? WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT YOU’RE ENTITLED TO ANY PROFIT OF THIS MOVIE, WHEN YOU STUNK UP TWO OF ALAN MOORE’s WORKS PREVIOUSLY?? – and then bury them in the back yard of the stages where Irwin Allen used to film Land of the Giants and Time Tunnel – they haven’t used in a while, so no one will find them there.

    So, any of you want this done – just give me the word. I swear, this won’t take more than a hour…

    FOX – focus your freaking energy on Wolverine & Star Wars and SHUT THE F UP about WATCHMEN. DC printed the comic – therefore WB is entitled to make the movie. They did a great job with V for Vendetta and they’re not going do wrong with Watchmen.

    ~

    Coat

  11. Thomax Green says:

    Sorry Ralph, I haven’t checked back here until now. I would say storylines such as Sandman, Preacher, Y the last man, just to name a few blow away Wathcmen any day of the week. But that is just in the Vertigo line up. DC has put out better stuff, so has even Marvel believe it or not. But that is just my opinion. But to be perfectly fair, that is the great thing about comics, there is so much to like, and not everyone is going to like the same things, but everyone ‘will’ like something.

  12. “Would they be stupid enough to stop the movie from being released?”

    Considering that every documented aspect of this case to date has proven conclusively that everyone involved has been taking double-doses of Stupid Pills, I’m not even sure how you can ask that question. Of COURSE they’re that stupid. The fact that Fox and WB are that stupid is the whole reason they’re in this mess in the first place.

  13. Oh yeah! Fox DID SCREW UP every other Alan Moore movie that they could. Now I guess this is three for them.

    My God. They sure do love money.

    To me, the logical thing to do is to threaten to boycott Wolverine: Origins. And actually do it, not just vent a spleen on the internet.

  14. Exactly my point Alex – Fox is not qualified to make the movie, just as Frank Miller wasn’t qualified to make the Spirit movie!!

    ~

    Coat

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