John Horn presents a compelling, clearly delineated narrative on the history of the WATCHMEN movie , why Fox is suing Warners, and what it all means.
In Warners’ view, Fox repeatedly declined to exercise any purported rights to become involved in the film during its various incarnations over the years, and in an e-mail even bad-mouthed the script that Warners greenlighted. The “Watchmen” case dramatizes the complex deal making that surrounds many high-profile projects and underscores how movie studios have grown addicted to comic-book franchises. In an era where “The Dark Knight” can generate $1 billion in global theatrical revenue, the well-executed superhero story has turned into Hollywood’s Holy Grail. It’s not just the box-office returns that are so meaningful to these kind of properties. A hit film can also sell truckloads of DVDs, help launch a theme-park ride, or generate millions in television sales. Fox, which has suffered through a demoralizing string of box-office flops this year, could desperately use such a movie. It felt its case against Warners was so strong it had no choice but to take the matter to court.
Amazingly, the case involves not only Fox and Warners, but Universal and Paramount, as well, a complicated tangle worthy of the imagination of, say, Alan Moore.
PLUS: Marc Grazer at Variety looks at the state of Fox’s superhero franchises, which is, well, not the greatest:
Outside of “Fantastic Four,” “X-Men” is Fox’s only successful superhero franchise. It can’t afford misfires like “Daredevil” or “Elektra,” which never had follow-ups. Fox is considering a relaunch of “Daredevil” with a new pic, similar to what Marvel and Universal did with the Incredible Hulk character this summer.
If Fox doesn’t act soon, it could end up in the same position as Warner Bros. which has been criticized for over-developing its superhero projects, like a sequel to “Superman Returns” or launches for such characters as Green Lantern, the Flash and Wonder Woman.
The studio picked up the license from Marvel before the comicbook company began financing its own slate of pics. Rights to “X-Men” revert back to Marvel in 2012 if pics aren’t in active development.