Many late night holiday-themed movements in the WATCHMEN case, and they are enough to make a movie fan’s nerves as frayed as the collar on a pitbull. It seems that, yes, Fox is going to try to stop the movie’s release:
An attorney for 20th Century Fox says the studio will continue to seek an order delaying the release of ‘Watchmen.’
U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess last week agreed with Fox that Warner Bros. had infringed its copyright by developing and shooting the superhero flick, scheduled for release March 6.
Feess said Monday he plans to hold a trial Jan. 20 to decide remaining issues.
Fox claims it never fully relinquished story rights from its deal made in the late 1980s, and sued Warner Bros. in February. Warner Bros. contended Fox isn’t entitled to distribution.
Warner Bros.’ attorney said Monday he didn’t know if an appeal was coming, but thinks a trial is necessary and a settlement unlikely.
Warners fired back with a statement of their own:
“We respectfully but vigorously disagree with the Court’s ruling and are exploring all of our appellate options. We continue to believe that Fox’s claims have no merit and that we will ultimately prevail, whether at trial or in the Court of Appeals. We have no plans to move the release date of the film.”
Jeff Trexler has detailed analysis and links to the court documents so you can follow along at home, including this nugget:
These three filings in particular provide detailed allegations as to how Warner Brothers got into this mess. In a nutshell, Fox claims that it has evidence that Warner Brothers initially relied on an inaccurate chain of title provided by Paramount. Once Warner Brothers was aware of Fox’s documented claims, it nonetheless decided to proceed in a deliberate “business calculation” that it would be more profitable to deal with a court case than clear the rights before making Watchmen.
So for everyone blaming Fox for waiting until the movie was all but in the can to foul the Wheaties, it seems that WB went into this knowing they were gambling with the law. For more, check out the site Filmesq, which has more in-depth analysis and document linkage.
Finally, while fans may be fretting over seeing Carla Gugino in a perky superhero outfit, Paul O’Brien has a useful observation in the comments. Whatever the legal problems here, there’s got to be a dollar amount that will make things all good again — much to WB’s chagrin.