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Settlement likely in bitter Watchmen dispute [Update]

Watchmen

Watchmen

In what seems like promising news, a federal judge has postponed today’s hearing on the status of the Watchmen lawsuit so attorneys for Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox may pursue settlement talks.

Michael Cieply of The New York Times reports that the hearing has been rescheduled for 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Fox filed the lawsuit in February, claiming it owned the movie rights to Watchmen, based on the 1986 DC Comics miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. In December U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess ruled that Fox owns a copyright interest in the movie because of a tangled development history that dates back to the late 1980s.

Earlier this week, attorneys for both studios agreed to allow Feess to determine whether Fox can block Warner Bros.’ planned March 6 release of the $130 million film. Today’s hearing was for the judge to decide whether he’d rule on Jan. 20 or, as Warner Bros. had requested, on Monday.

Update: Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily has a few more details: “According to court documents, Fox and Warner Bros have conducted the settlement talks since last weekend and made concessions. This is surprising since WB lawyers announced they would continue to fight immediately after Feess announced his intention to rule in favor of Fox for copyight infringement and distribution rights.”

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6 Comments

fox and Warner Brothers proably figured that they would lose to much if they kept the thing tied up in court not ot mention maybe Alan Moore called in some favors to make sure fox doesn’t deny him his fantasy of spitting venom on the film. hopefully they come to an agreement and we are all in a theater march 6 watching the long in the works masterpiece

I don’t know why Nikki Finke is so surprised. This case has “settlement” written all over it, from what I’ve seen.

I agree with Paul. This was a blatant cash grab from the beginning by Fox; they’ve spent a couple hundred thousand on lawyer fees for show, but in the end, they’ll make out with a nice silent payment, and we’ll be all happy because the “good guys” got Watchmen out for us to watch.

If only they’d use the money to develop quality screenplays and movies… but then again, that’d make too much sense, wouldn’t it?

A pox on Fox. I know Warner Bros. was not too sharp in making sure they had this property squared away, but gimme a break. Fox couldn’t make it themselves for whatever reasons, saw Warner doing it and waited until the results to pounce to get ‘their’ share. Despicable and unethical behavior, but I expect no less from a Rupert Murdoch-owned property.

Chad, the masterpiece has been available for anyone to read for over 20 years now; what people will be watching on March 6 is a derivative studio property with all the textual and visual complexity sucked out of it. There’s a reason truly talented directors steered clear of a Watchmen adaptation: most pieces of art rely on their medium for their effect. Zack Snyder’s previous venture, the movie version of 300, is hardly Citizen Kane, Le chien andaluse, Vertigo, or even American Beauty; it’s nothing more than a stylized action film. There’s every reason to believe that his adaptation will far short of being a “masterpiece” in every respect. Treating Watchmen like a superhero action story is like deciding to make Don Quixote a sword-and-sorcery yarn or Twelfth Night into a Hollywood chick flick.

I agree with Bryan Lynch, the money that went not only into this litigation but also the Watchmen film itself could have been spent on actually furthering the film industry by developing original quality films and screenplays. Take say, Christopher Nolan, who after a promising debut with Memento has squandered his talent on films that, despite their entertainment value and high revenues, are about as original or complex as a Big Mac. And that’s without going as far as Moore himself has in his admirable objection to a film industry that spends over a billion dollars a year on creating pablum in a world plagued with avoidable disease and poverty.

I love how silly fanboys who have yet to see the film feel it necessary to hack it to shreds. I for one am able to understand the difference between a book and a film. In a book you have the narrative that is handled through narration and the third person element. In films that same narrative is handled visually (much like the panels in the book Watchmen forwarded the narrative without words). It is up the the director and ultimately what distinguishes their talent as to how they handle this narrative.

And the same silly fan boys speak of Moore as though he is God for hating Hollywood, when at the end of the day he writes comic books. Pretension is a disease that infects the artist and ultimately infects and destorys their work more so then Hollywood ever could. So I think everyone needs to take a step back, get over themselves and realize that we are reading funny books.

I cannot wait for this legal crap to get resolved and to see the film… then I shall make my judgment.

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