For those not in the know, here's a quick run-down of the legal problems facing the recently completed Warner Brothers release 'Watchmen'. Back in the 80s when the Watchmen graphic novel had just been released, Fox bought up the rights to produce (or at least distribute) the movie adaptation of Watchmen. After over 20 years in development hell the movie has finally been made (by Warner Brothers) and was all set for release when Fox decided to file a law suit against Warner Bros. since they claimed that they still owned the rights to the movie adaptation. Obviously Warner Bros. feels otherwise, claiming that by not producing the film themselves in the intervening time, they essentially passed up the opportunity and gave up their rights by default.
Warner Bros. position was dealt a significant blow last week when a judge gave a pre-trail ruling in favor of Fox.
I expected that -since Warners have already spent so much on advertising and would want to capitalize on that- Warner Bros. and Fox would have a few words and the issue would be settled out of court (presumably with Fox being paid a fat wad of cash). However according to a statement released yesterday from a Warners' attorney, it appears they will be fighting the case and taking Fox to court (release date be damned!).
According to The Associated Press, 20th Century Fox will seek a court order delaying the March 6 release of the much-anticipated adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons‘ graphic novel.
The AP reports that in a response to today’s announcement, an attorney for Warner Bros said “he didn’t know if an appeal was coming, but thinks a trial is necessary and a settlement unlikely.”
As usual it seems that the studios are being motivated by the big floating dollar signs in their eyes and not paying attention to common sense. Fox probably do partially own the rights, and Warners probably do have a point about them not striking while the iron was hot so why not come to some sort of agreement and get the film out a.s.a.p? Well clearly they both think they can pull a fast one on the other, failing to notice that the only people who will lose out here are the fans who just want to see an awesome film at some point this decade. Hopefully this trail will be over swiftly and the film will be released on time but it's not looking likely at this point. God forbid the movie gets stuck in perpetual legal purgatory, Snyder seems like the kind of guy who would 'leak' the movie onto the internet anyway so I'm sure the fans will get what they want eventually, one way or another.