By Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
Most of you have probably already seen the trailer for Watchmen by now, and if you’re a fan, you’ve probably been on pins and needles knowing that the film might not actually see the light of day. The two studios have been waging a battle for a year over the distribution rights, stemming from Fox’s allegation that they had already optioned Alan Moore’s graphic novel, and Warner Brothers producer Larry Gordon had failed to obtain the rights before beginning his own Watchmen project.
On December 24, a District Court judge (working on Christmas Eve?) granted Fox’s copyright claim. This must have been pretty scary for Warner Brothers, since they’ve already been advertising like mad, and slated the film for a March 9 release.
Of course, no matter whose name ended up on it, the real tragedy would have been if the film simply languished in litigation and negotiations for years. Luckily for the fans, the studios apparently realized that neither of them would make money if that happened, and came to a settlement. They haven’t announced the exact details, but various news sources have reported that Warner agreed to pay Fox as much as 8.5% of the film’s gross receipts and $1.5 million to cover the development costs.
The studios did do a nice job of patting each other on the back in a joint statement: “Warner Bros. acknowledges that Fox acted in good faith in bringing its claims, which were asserted prior to the start of principal photography. Fox acknowledges that Warner Bros. acted in good faith in defending against those claims.” They probably figured that bad PR for either one of them would only hurt the film.
I think this is great news, and I can’t wait to see the film. Alan Moore has been notoriously disappointed in the previous adaptations of his work (including The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta), to the point where he’s said he doesn’t watch them. I’ve still got pretty high hopes for this one, though, just based on the buzz and the trailer.