Nikki Finke has a story that seems sort of sensationalistic up on her site right now, where she reports that Watchmen may be in legal trouble because a judge has refused to throw out a lawsuit by Fox over the release of the graphic novel adaptation. Watchmen has had a long history in Hollywood, and at one point the film was lodged at Fox before it came back to Warner Bros. Finke quotes a 20th Century Fox ‘insider’ as saying:
“In essence, the Judge appears to conclude that Fox retained distribution rights in Watchmen through the 1991 Largo quit claim, and he concludes that, under the 1994 turnaround, producer Larry Gordon acquired an option to acquire Fox’s remaining interest in Watchmen that was never exercised, thereby leaving Fox with its rights under the 1994 agreement.” [italics in the original]
Finke plays it up like Fox will get an injunction against Warner Bros ever releasing the film, but that seems like an insane outcome. All Fox wants is some money – the fight will be whether Warner Bros has to pony any up, and how much. In reality this will likely play out like the Dukes of Hazzard case, which Finke even mentions in her article – Warner Bros had to pay out a bunch of cash.
As far as I’m concerned this isn’t anything for the Watchmen fan to worry about – this movie will still be released on March 6th, 2009, and not one frame will be affected by this lawsuit. It’s just the usual Hollywood money battles as everybody tries to get a piece of the pie.
Maybe Fox should sue for co-credit so they can get their name on a good movie in theaters for the first time since 2006 (look it up – Big Fox hasn’t had a movie worth watching in almost three years).