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Studios will announce Watchmen settlement Friday morning [Update]

Watchmen

Watchmen

Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox will announce Friday morning that they have resolved the lawsuit regarding the $130-million Watchmen movie.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studios will present the settlement at 9:30 a.m. (PST) to U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess and request that the case be dismissed.

Although the terms of the agreement won’t be disclosed, the trade paper reports “it is said to involve a sizable cash payment to Fox and a percentage of the film’s box office.”

The studios are expected to release a joint statement on Friday.

Fox filed the lawsuit in February, claiming it still holds the movie rights to the 1986 DC Comics miniseries, which it had acquired in the late ’80s for producer Lawrence Gordon. Although the project passed from studio to studio over the next two decades before finally settling at Warner Bros., Fox asserted Gordon had never obtained the necessary rights from the studio.

Feess agreed, ruling on Dec. 24 that “Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the Watchmen motion picture.”

Attorneys for the two studios began settlement talks five days later, ahead of an expected Jan. 20 decision from Feess on whether Fox could block release of the movie. Negotiations reportedly “got serious” last weekend after the judge postponed a settlement hearing so the studios could meet further.

If everything goes as planned in the morning, Warner Bros. will release Watchmen on March 6.

(Note: Post updated to replace earlier reporting from The Hollywood Reporter’s media-law blog with expanded information from the trade paper.)

Update 2 (8:26 p.m. PST): Details of the agreement — y’know, the one whose terms supposedly won’t be disclosed — already are leaking out.

The New York Times’ Carpetbagger blog reports Fox will get a cut of gross receipts of Watchmen or any sequels or spinoffs — as much as 8.5 percent — which could end up amounting to tens of millions of dollars. The studio also will recoup its development costs and legal fees, which amounts to millions of dollars more.

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Comments

16 Comments

Well, Good God, at least it’s still coming out.

that is good news. though still will wait till all is official by fox. and Warner’s but looks like given that Watchman refused to die as a film that the court case would wind up ending with a deal. and fox gets some cash which is what they wanted in the first place. watchman lives even fox and their legal team could not kill the film that refuses to die.

Mariannecoxwalloer

January 15, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Thank god its still coming out in Spring! I hate the summer crowds and all the overcrowding. Plus I can’t make it up the street in my dingy crap car since it freaking overheats even more during those months.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 15, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Be interesting to see how well the Watchmen does in the box office profits.

Hope they’ll make a killing after all the hulabaloo and uproar over this film.

I’m still wondering if the Batman TV show rights are gonna be in play somewhere with this.

Let me guess.

Warners lost to Fox,which means Watchmen will be shelved after all,huh?

Rod G: Did you not bother to read the article? Do you no reading comprehension skills? Are you a child who was left behind?

It’s settled. That means no one lost. Well the producer and lawyer who screwed up in the first place is gonna lose big when Warners is through with him, but Warners gets their movie out, Fox gets their money, and the world keeps turning.

“Fox will get a cut of gross receipts of Watchmen or any sequels or spinoffs.”

Ah Hell.

I don’t think that means there necessarily will be sequels or spinoffs; Fox is just covering all bases.

I know it sounds like heresy, but I think there could be a good sequel to Watchmen.

“Nothing ever ends.”

I think this means there will absolutely be no spin offs or sequels. WB isn’t going to risk money on a movie that they have to give 8.5% of the receipts to, ’cause that’s not a percent of the profit, that’s a percent of the ticket sales.
I think that’s a good thing.

But Fox also has an 8.5% stake in any Watchmen projects. The better it does, the more money they get. It’s now in Fox’s best interests to help promote Watchmen. So yes, Warner has to give up some profit, but they also have a de facto partner of sorts.

Hypothetically, Fox could make some extra resources available to the current or future Watchmen projects – funds, marketing, expertise… I dunno. That might make it appealing to a future producer.

They could also help by clearing the schedule on the week of March 6 – if there’s no other big openings, Watchmen will surely take a larger box office -

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 17, 2009 at 1:29 pm

“I know it sounds like heresy, but I think there could be a good sequel to Watchmen.

“Nothing ever ends.” ”

The problem with that is that the Watchmen was one of a kind and original in itself.
To continue on with the story would kind of defeat the purpose ot what the Watchmen is all about.

With two of its characters dead, what more could be said with the remaining characters?

the only sequel that would make sense is a prequel

I missed this when it came out, but I knew that good news had to be about when a Watchmen commercial showed up in the middle of the NFC Championship Game on Fox! I wonder if Fox is trimming the ad rates since it owns a pct of the gate.

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