Studio wants Watchmen case now
Both studios in the battle over profits of the Watchmen film have filed their papers with the courts to debate whether Fox should be allowed to halt the film release – not if they should be able to gain profits, that's yet to come – and Warner Bros. has specifically asked if they can get the courts decision moved forward.
They are stating that there's a massive move to release the film on 6th of March, and that there will be huge damages to the studio and associated companies should the film not make that date.
You'll remember that the quick ruling before Xmas had the Judge saying that Fox had a right to distribute the Watchmen film which threw the whole future of the release up in the air, and it's no doubt that ruling that has caused each side to file these papers.
While Fox is busy defending its case and saying it has the right to stop the release of the film and is actively fighting to do so, something I can't see helps them one little bit.
Frankly it doesn't matter right now who is in the right, if a studio stops the fans who are eager to see this film from seeing it, they will alienate a section of the film going public. Now they may think it's only a small section, comic book fans after all, and they may be right, but when they themselves have such a vested interest in that group going to the cinema for their comic book films, they should also be thinking about reputational risk.
The other thing that Fox should consider is that if they really are just after the hard cash profit from the work and investment of someone else, then pulling the film from release stops that profit and may well harm future profits.
Meanwhile The Hollywood Reporter article states that Warner Bros. are trying to get the courts to allow them to continue the release, for which many third party companies are set up to support, pay for and earn from, as well as Warner Bros. themselves who claim to have spent some US $150 million on making and marketing the film for that release date.
Conversely though, I think this Fox situation and a possible delay by that studio is only going to help the Warner Bros. marketing machine. Sure they are going to lose money on a date change, but the uproar is going to add tons of publicity and really rally the comic book fan audience behind the film.
So this Friday there's a status meeting with the Courts which will decide if the hearing will go ahead, and it's that hearing on the 20th of January, which will decide if Fox can issue the injunction against the film and have it stopped from being released. Both studios have agreed to let the Judge make the decision.
We're waiting, and hoping. Let's hope the Judge reads comic books and watches films.