Fox really does own Watchmen?
Unbelievably it seems as though 20th Century Fox may actually be in the right in their attempts to try and stop the release of Watchmen by Warner Bros. According to some heavyweight analysis of the court documents and ruling released the other day, it would seem that the rights deals have been messed up and Fox are still the owners.
Of course this is still an early ruling and there are court cases galore to go through, but right now it looks like Watchmen will fall fowl to legalities and not hit the screens on time, if at all.
The ruling the other day from the Judge on the case agreed that Fox still had rights to the film and that the court case would go ahead. It also told both parties to get their acts in gear and start talking to each other.
However that might not be enough, Fox are making it clear that they don't want a settlement and Warner Bros. are equally downbeat about the whole thing, and still the film presses on.
“The bottom line: Warner Bros. had absolutely no right to roll film on Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons superhero classic.”
The article explains a little bit more saying the following about the ruling papers:
“That paper appears to indicate the following: Fox has always had the right to distribute a Watchmen movie; anytime Gordon put together a new version of a Watchmen movie (which is to say, develop a new script or snag a new director for the film), he had to offer Fox the chance to produce and distribute it; if Fox passed on the project, Gordon had the right to purchase Fox’s interest in Watchmen and take the project elsewhere.”
Now that is worrying. It goes on to say that the producer Lawrence Gordon should have presented Fox with the option of making Watchmen before taking it to the next studio in the long development history Warner Bros. It also reveals that Warner Bros. should have made the deal with Fox from the beginning, talking to them to clear the rights before beginning production. There's even the revelation that Fox did contact Warner Bros. at the beginning of their development.
So legally it's all fine, they have the rights, but what does that mean to the audience member and Watchmen fan who is eager to see the film on the big screen, especially now it is made?
Well there are still a number of gaping holes for me that I have been talking about from the beginning, and two that the article also mentions.
How did Warner Bros. and the experienced producer Gordon manage to make such a mess of dealing with the rights?
Why did Fox let Warner Bros. get so far in making the film, regardless of whether they contacted them early on or not, and wait so long to raise the case? Why did they wait until it looked like it was going to be a big film?
Where do the other attempts to create this film lie? Did they resolve the rights correctly before beginning that version, and if so that raises the question as to what happened here from all parties? Did they all conveniently forget what happened before?
Regardless of all this it still reeks a little that Fox waited so long to raise the court case, and even pushing that aside, it's stinks to high heaven that Warner Bros. have spent all this time, effort, and love for Watchmen to create the film and it looks like it could be thrown in the bin.
There is the chance that they'll settle and that the film will get released and that Fox is taking a hard line to try and get more money while Warner Bros. is digging it's heels in to try and let the courts decide the amount hoping that it'll be low.
It's all guesswork and hoping at the moment. We'll have to wait and hope.