No, not a lawsuit by Alan Moore…rather it’s a battle of studio titans, as Fox has been suing Warners saying they control the rights to the “greatest graphic novel of all times.”:
At the heart of Fox’s suit, filed in February, is the contention that it never ceded rights to the property. And according to the federal Judge Gary Allen Feess, Fox retained distribution rights to the graphic novel penned by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons through a 1991 claim. Furthermore, Feess appears to agree that under a 1994 turnaround deal with producer Larry Gordon, Gordon acquired an option to acquire Fox’s remaining interest in “Watchmen,” which was never exercised, thereby leaving Fox with its rights under the 1994 agreement.
“It is our company’s policy not to comment on pending litigation and thus will not comment on the specifics of this case,” Warners said in statement. “That said, the court’s ruling simply means that the parties will engage in discovery and proceed with the litigation. The judge did not opine at all on the merits other than to conclude that Fox satisfied the pleading requirements. We respectfully disagree with Fox’s position and do not believe they have any rights in and to this project.”
Yesterday’s ruling was simply a refusal by a judge not to dismiss Fox’s claim, not a decision either way. However, Fox seems to smell blood…or money
Surprisingly, Fox said it would rather see the film killed instead of collecting a percentage of the box office.
“When you have copyright infringement, there are some damages you never recover,” said a source close to the litigation.
Oh boo hoo hoo! As commenters at an excellent Nikki Finke round-up of the story point out, Fox seemed perfectly happy to let Paramount make the movie a few years back, until Par pulled the plug on the Paul Greengrass version at the very last minute. Or could it be, as one commenter comments:
Studios will wait gladly years for a chance to screw another studio over in this way when they have them contractually by the balls.
The judge’s refusal to dismiss the suit is a big blow to Warner, especially after a somewhat similar suit saw them pony up some $17.5 million just to allow the DUKES OF HAZZARD movie to be released:
But before reaching the screen, the movie was tied up as a group of people who held rights related to the “Hazzard” TV show sued Warner Bros., the studio making the film. Last month, in an out-of-court settlement, the studio paid them $17.5 million, according to people familiar with the situation. It is believed to be the largest sum ever to arise out of a case involving movie rights for a TV show. It amounts to about one-third of the film’s original budget. Mr. Toberoff, who usually takes his cases on a contingency-fee basis, declined to say how much he made from the “Hazzard” case. Warner Bros. declined to comment on any aspect of separated-rights issues.
A similar settlement — which is most probably what will still Fox’s weeping over copyright infringement — would put a big crimp in WATCHMEN’s bottom line. But it will still make more on DVD than the DUKES OF HAZZARD.