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Watchmen Movie in Legal Limbo?

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  • Watchmen Movie in Legal Limbo?

    It is looking like Fox has some real sound reasons for stating that WB never actually obtained the rights to make a Watchmen movie. I don't know that I expect Watchmen the movie to be as amazing as the comic book/graphic novel was, but I sure hope this gets settled and doesn't wind up delaying or (gasp!) shelving it.

    Here's the best coverage I've seen so far. http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.co...n-legal-peril/

    and after reading some of the legal documents available online, it really does look like WB screwed up royally and "bought" the rights from a producer who didn't actually own them.

    Should be interesting . . .

  • #2
    Somewhere back in the UK, Alan Moore is probably laughing his ass off.

    I was talking to an editor of mine about this situation last night and he had a really good idea. Instead of Fox settling for a percentage of something they don't know is going to be a hit or not, maybe they could Warner Bros to release the rights on the original Batman TV series that they've kept in limbo for years. That way, Fox gets something that will make them a ton of money and Warners keeps Watchmen for themselves. Mind you, the film could turn out to be a massive hit, but I'm still trying to be pragmatic about this.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Joe Nazzaro View Post
      Somewhere back in the UK, Alan Moore is probably laughing his ass off.
      I was thinking the same thing. Maybe it will turn out to be the Watchmen curse.
      What a wonderful world you live in. -
      Yeah, well, the rent is cheap, the pay is decent and I get to make my own hours.

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      • #4
        The way I understand it, Fox claims that they still have the distribution rights, but the rights would've been for sale for the price of their development costs ($435,600) plus interest plus a profit participation of the film (apparently they claim this is stated somewhere in small print, somewhere in a mountain of paperwork after "a very complex, convoluted series of negotiations and agreements" with Larry Gordon.) But if this process was between Larry Gordon and Fox, WB probably haven't seen any of these papers.

        So a deal similar to what MGM and WB (New Line) had to make with the Hobbit films would've been required, because MGM still had the distribution rights. Those negotiations were complicated, but they were done in good will and everyone had their cards on the table.

        It is very suspicious that after Fox, the project has been bounced around from studio to studio and Paramount even went into pre-production, and Fox never said anything about this. After that project died, Fox could've gotten all the rights back and start their own production but they couldn't be bothered. They didn't say anything when WB started their project, nothing when they started filming. They waited untill they had finished filming, and then sprang their trap.

        So, clearly, this is just something done out of spite, an attempt to get even more money than the original deal would've granted them, which is strange, because do you really want to piss off your peers in this business because there are always deals that need to be made which benefit both parties, but who's gonna want to deal with Fox after something like this. They've ruined their reputation for good, if there was anything left of it in the first place.

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        • #5
          [QUOTE=vakie;49795]

          It is very suspicious that after Fox, the project has been bounced around from studio to studio and Paramount even went into pre-production, and Fox never said anything about this. After that project died, Fox could've gotten all the rights back and start their own production but they couldn't be bothered. They didn't say anything when WB started their project, nothing when they started filming. They waited untill they had finished filming, and then sprang their trap.
          /QUOTE]

          According to court documents, Fox actually sent a "cease and desist" order to WB prior to shooting. This was ignored by WB who apparently felt that they did have all rights to the property. So, while the timing looks suspicious, it is just the judge's ruling many months after Fox started litigation that is happening now.

          I do agree that Fox appears to have let several other studios work toward filming Watchmen in the past without (apparently) making the same legal claim. This could show that they've only recently discovered exactly where they stand legally or it could lend credence to the folks who believe Fox has been waiting to spring this after production is well under way to improve their position when it comes to a settlement.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by vakie View Post

            It is very suspicious that after Fox, the project has been bounced around from studio to studio and Paramount even went into pre-production, and Fox never said anything about this. After that project died, Fox could've gotten all the rights back and start their own production but they couldn't be bothered. They didn't say anything when WB started their project, nothing when they started filming. They waited untill they had finished filming, and then sprang their trap.
            According to court documents, Fox actually sent a "cease and desist" order to WB prior to shooting. This was ignored by WB who apparently felt that they did have all rights to the property. So, while the timing looks suspicious, it is just the judge's ruling many months after Fox started litigation that is happening now.

            I do agree that Fox appears to have let several other studios work toward filming Watchmen in the past without (apparently) making the same legal claim. This could show that they've only recently discovered exactly where they stand legally or it could lend credence to the folks who believe Fox has been waiting to spring this after production is well under way to improve their position when it comes to a settlement.

            For anyone who enjoys reading legal documents or just wants to get more details on all of this, here is a site with most of the actual documents. Some of it is actually very interesting reading. It sure (IMO) makes the WB legal team look like they are grasping for straws while Fox seems to be sticking to the facts.

            http://uncivilsociety.org/2008/08/wa...inal-docu.html
            Last edited by NotSoWize; 08-22-2008, 11:01 AM.

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            • #7
              Even if Fox sat back quietly and waited for the film to go ahead (and I believe the cease and desist letter puts paid to that argument), they still couldn't do anything without believing they were on secure legal fotting. Consider that number of lawyers specializing in contract law that are usually employed by most major studios, the notion that Warners could have dropped the ball is pretty stunning.

              I still say Warners and Fox should swap the rights for Watchmen against the Batman TV series and everybody goes home happy.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Joe Nazzaro View Post
                I still say Warners and Fox should swap the rights for Watchmen against the Batman TV series and everybody goes home happy.
                HOLY LEGAL JARGON!!! I am with you there Joe, as I am a huge BAT fan but I cannot imagine that it would/could ever be that simple.

                Shame for me also as I have always dreamed of well made superhero movies from the time of my childhood. To see them finally being made and looking this good is a dream come true for me. I don't actually know much about WATCHMEN but the trails all looked fascinating I do hope we get to see the film soon.
                http://www.lddb.com/collection.php?a...er=dgtwoodward
                Yes, I still collect Laserdiscs!!
                47" Phillips 1080p 46" Samsung 1080p Toshiba HD-30E (2 both Multi Region) PS3-80G 120G BR Multi-Region Maidstone MD-BR-2102 Sky-HD Freesat-HD Pioneer DVL-909 CLD-D925 CLD-2950 (AC3) CLD-D515 CLD S315 Yamaha ADP-1 Meridian 519 Pioneer 609 (DD/DTS) x 2 Speakers & subs Jammo M/S Pioneer Technics Sony Eltax Akai Aiwa

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                • #9
                  The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting piece yesterday, which is probably still on their website about how Warner Bros will be making fewer but bigger movies in the future, and part of that strategy is to start putting out lots of potential franchise films based on popular DC Comics characters. All of which is reasonably exciting, but for Warner Pictures chief Jeff Robinov's quoteabout making the characters as dark as they can, based on the success of Dark Knight. Robinove is quoted as saying 'We're going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it.' Which makes me suspect that he doesn't know what he's talking about. Superman as a dark brooding vigilante perhaps?

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                  • #10
                    I, for one, wait with baited breath for the dark and brooding Plastic Man movie.
                    Got movies? www.filmbuffonline.com

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                    • #11
                      The dark and brooding ...

                      Originally posted by frulad View Post
                      I, for one, wait with baited breath for the dark and brooding Plastic Man movie.
                      Let us not forget the dark and brooding Animal Man, Ant, Arrowette, Bouncing Boy, Bozo the Iron Man, Bumblebee, Color Kid, Comet Queen, Cosmic Boy, Dolphin, Duplicate Boy, Elasti-Girl, Element Girl, Element Lad, Ferro Lad, Fire Lad, Gypsy, Hawkgirl, Heckler, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, Human Bomb, Lady Quark, Lagoon Boy, Little Cheese, Major Bummer, Major Disaster, Power Boy, Power Girl, Saturn Girl, Swamp Thing, Mister Terrific, Ultra Boy, Wonder Boy, and Wonder Girl.

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                      • #12
                        Dan, you forgot the biggest one: the Inferior Five. Because they're all about dark and brooding.

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                        • #13
                          Another D&B* natural-




                          *Dark and brooding
                          Got movies? www.filmbuffonline.com

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                          • #14
                            Got movies? www.filmbuffonline.com

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                            • #15
                              Super serious problems in upcoming Batman film-

                              Got movies? www.filmbuffonline.com

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