The reindeer droppings just hit the fan — Fox wins ‘Watchmen’ battle

Posted by · 7:04 pm · December 24th, 2008

Billy Crudup in WatchmenIt won’t be a Merry Christmas in Burbank this year:

In a surprise ruling, a federal judge in Los Angeles said he intended to grant 20th Century Fox’s claim that it owns a copyright interest in the “Watchmen,” a movie shot by Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures and set for release in March.

The decision was disclosed in a five-page written order issued on Wednesday. Gary A. Feess, a judge in the United States District Court for Central California, said he would provide a more detailed order soon.

Fox has been seeking to prevent Warner from releasing the film. The superhero adventure, based on the “Watchmen” graphic novel, is being directed by Zack Snyder (who also directed “300”) and has shaped up as one of most eagerly anticipated releases for next year.

A Warner spokesman, Scott Rowe, declined to comment on the ruling and the studio’s plans…

“Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the ‘Watchmen’ motion picture,” the ruling said.

The rest. And catch up on the story as it’s been reported here and here.

→ 23 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

23 responses so far

  • 1 12-24-2008 at 8:22 pm

    AJ said...

    what a wonderful way to start off the holiday…

  • 2 12-24-2008 at 8:33 pm

    Davidraider88 said...

    Does this mean it will probably be delayed?

  • 3 12-24-2008 at 9:33 pm

    JAB said...

    that’s like #2 on my list for 09…shit.

  • 4 12-24-2008 at 9:36 pm

    Matthew said...

    Shit. I saw the first twenty two minutes of this in Austin a few weeks ago, and it looked amazing. It is also number 2 on my most anticipated movies list of 2009. Pixar’s UP (which judging from the first 45 minutes, looks to be one of their best) is number one. Damn that FOX!

  • 5 12-25-2008 at 3:37 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Well that’s not really a surprise. But let’s hope Fox keeps their hands off the final product and only demands a logo and part of the profits.

  • 6 12-25-2008 at 6:15 am

    Kokushi said...

    #1 – Inglorious Basterds & Watchmen
    2- Shutter Island
    3. Public Enemies (Bale & Depp) – Michale Mann directing
    4. Terminator 4
    5. Wolverine

    What a great way to start this day.

  • 7 12-25-2008 at 6:16 am

    Kokushi said...

    Lets hope FOX dont cut more or change anything.

  • 8 12-25-2008 at 6:57 am

    Alex said...

    zack snyder bugs me.

  • 9 12-25-2008 at 7:33 am

    Matthew said...

    Oh Inglorious Basterds. I forgot about that. And Public Enemies. Ooh. Along with Where the Wild Things Are and The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Those are highly awaited as well.

  • 10 12-25-2008 at 8:33 am

    JAB said...

    1. Harry Potter and Public Enemies
    2. Watchmen
    3. Shutter Island
    4. Inglorious Basterds
    5. Wolverine

  • 11 12-25-2008 at 9:30 am

    Joel said...

    Wow. That’s messed up. It’s my most anticipated for next year. Hopefully Warner will prevail.

  • 12 12-25-2008 at 10:44 am

    qq said...

    Watchmen would probably be my most anticipated film if I didn’t hate Snyder so much. The visuals will no doubt be amazing, but I could see him missing the point of the graphic novel entirely.

    The script for Inglorious Basterds is classic Tarantino. I just wish Simon Pegg hadn’t dropped out, he would have been perfect for the role.

    Wolverine just looks god awful.

  • 13 12-25-2008 at 11:14 am

    Mr. F said...

    I guess they are going to delay it until december and they’ll add singing chipmunks, a monkey, and a living t-rex skeleton. Damn you Fox!

  • 14 12-25-2008 at 12:56 pm

    joe said...

    WB screwed up on this big time. From my understanding of it, Fox has every right to block the film from release, which was mentioned as one of their intentions.

    If they want to enforce it, this thing could be held up in court for a year or two…in which case The Watchmen will be one of the most anticipated movies of 2011.

    If Fox agrees just to take free money, then probably not much will change.

  • 15 12-25-2008 at 5:59 pm

    AJ said...

    If they’re smart they’ll make it a big legal battle. Maximize publicity and thus profits. Sigh, if only studios were that smart

  • 16 12-25-2008 at 7:58 pm

    KK said...

    Thank goodness.

    I hope Fox buries this thing so it never sees the light of day.

  • 17 12-26-2008 at 3:04 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    I’m just pissed that Synder is directing. For what it could have been in the hands of a true artist, this will be a huge disappointment.

  • 18 12-26-2008 at 3:33 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Let’s wait and, uh, let the movie speak for itself first. I’ve heard nothing — and I do mean nothing — but good things.

  • 19 12-27-2008 at 1:19 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Sure Kris, I’m still rather anxious to see it. But I think that we all know that first and foremost Synder is going for the visual achievment before anything else. You are welcome to disagree, but I didn’t see any attempt towards any kind of plot development, character depth, or quality dialog in 300. Sure, that movie would have never required an Oscar winning screenplay, but to seemingly not even strive for anything good is what got me (at least I hope he didn’t try, because if that is his best attempt at developing a truly good movie, then I truly feel sorry for him). I hope you realize that you, me, and anyone else on this site could have directed that movie as well as Synder did. The only thing he put any stock in was the fight sequences (which got old to me after about thiry seconds into each one) and the machismo yells that many people thought were among the best movie quotes of the year.

    So that is what I’m talking about. Yes 300 had a stunning look to it, and I’m more than sure Watchmen will have the same, and this alone will obviously please many people, but as far as being a good movie this won’t cut it. The possiblity is there, but I really don’t like its chances.

    And I’m not saying you’re naive in believing what you hear, but many, many times we all hear that some highly touted movie is utterly superb and magnificient and every other praiseworthy adjective, but in the end they often times the film turns out to be just plain good, or even bad possibly. One instance I specifically remember comes from a year ago when Peter Travers, in his annual most anticipated films of the fall/winter said of There Will Be Blood, and basically remember his exact words, that word on the street was that this was one of the most violent films ever. Now I thought the movie was absolutely great and couldn’t have been better, but I think we all know how that prediction turned out. Keep in mind that this was only about four months before it was to be released, so shooting should have already wrapped up. Honestly Kris, you are much more in-the-know than I, but it is my theory that these people involved with the film intentionally try to up its rep by severly stretching the truth. Because I would imagine, and I think you would agree, that Travers is also somewhat in-the-know, meaning if something is to be heard, he will likely hear it. So that’s why I never buy into the “hearing good things” about a movie, because it is just as likely a lie as it is true. And I’m not out trying to burst bubbles, but as you say, we should wait and see.

  • 20 12-27-2008 at 1:27 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Oh yea, just thought of this. One bad thing I have heard about the movie (and I can’t remember where, probably something unreliable like wikipedia) is that Synder is going to use Desolation Row for the end credits – but as done by My Chemical Romance. Which, even if you like MCR and their version of the song, I think it nearly impossible to think it is better than Dylan’s original. Which is another reason I get the sense that Synder is trying to appeal to a certain generation; a generation that goes nuts over a movie like 300. While neither version may fit well, I would think that Dylan’s version would add a much more sincere and depressing tone to the film than MCR. But again the whole thing is just rumor and could very well be false.

  • 21 12-27-2008 at 1:52 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “But I think that we all know that first and foremost Synder is going for the visual achievment before anything else.”

    No, I don’t think we “know” that. He’s spoken at length about his passion for this narrative and how serious he is about respecting that in the transition to the screen. He’s already fought some major battles with the studio to keep certain plot points in the film, despite their inclusion stretching the running time to nearly three hours.

    I think people are too quick to disavow this project based on Snyder’s penchant for spectacle. Where is it written that such a penchant can’t be married to respectable storytelling?

    And don’t worry about thinking I’m naive if that’s how you want to perceive things. I’m comfortable with my sources on this and any other matter I speak up on in this industry.

  • 22 12-28-2008 at 2:25 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Kris, I wasn’t trying to be offensive here. I was just merely stating facts about 300. It was certainly not horrible, but I don’t remember anyone who liked saying it was a great story or anything like that. Now as I said, it didn’t need that to be a great movie, but I felt that some attempt at it would help. If you think about 300, it is nothing more than a porn film- except here you replace sex with battles and pompous violence. Just take that short sex scene between Butler’s character and his wife. Completely and utterly unecessary! Just like the whole movie was filmed, we have those aggravating slow motion spurts that is only, and I mean only, meant to scream, “hey look at this.”

    I’m not saying that a director is permanently labeled by his first films, but I’ve heard several great directors say that in a sense, your first works are your purest because they lay out and detail the techniques you will have as a film maker. And we are a creature of habit.

    Also, I have heard Synder’s interviews on the film. Kris, with your knowledge of football and film, do stars not say the politically correct thing 99% of the time. Have all of his interviews not been “the right thing to say.” But you point out a good fact in his battling the studios on some issues. I’m not trying to be a pessimistic cynacist here, I’m just pointing this out. And just because a director wants to stay true to the story doesn’t necessarily make that a good thing. Literature is a whole other medium. Its method of telling a story is different (and I don’t mean in the literal sense of words and images, I mean in appealing to the audience’s aesthetic palate). Also, a director can stay true to a story and spice it up (for good or bad) as well.

    And I didn’t perceive anyting in regards to your sources. I mentioned Travers because I don’t think someone with his stature would print anything through a widely read magazine unless he highly trusted his sources. And so I mentioned that as it turns out he could not have possibly been more wrong – the movie could have passed as PG-13. I’m not trying to stir an argument with you or anyone else here. I was simply trying to show you that in fact I do have legitimate reasons to have precautions about this film. I don’t want it to fail, I hope it is great and that I like it. I’m sorry if we misunderstood each other here.

  • 23 1-11-2009 at 4:35 pm

    rewinn said...

    Scott, while I share your concerns about 300, I’m hoping that Watchmen’s structure is different enough that the latter movie will be much better.

    300-the-movie seemed to be basically converting 300-the-graphic-novel into motion picture form. The blood spurt’d more slowly because there wasn’t any characterization or moral dilemmas to fill in the time with. 300 (both the novel and the movie) was about mythical (although facially historical) supermen who sacrificed themselves to save an unworthy, lesser people.

    Watchmen-the-graphic-novel is the opposite; the mythical supermen sacrifice a heck of a lot of folks OTHER than themselves to save we unworthy, lesser people. There is a lot more moral dilemma, decisionmaking and characterization going on in the graphic novel, and therefore, I hope also in the movie.

    It could also fall flat. Often unknown actors are unknown for a reason.

    The whole intellectual property battle shows amazing incompetence on someone’s part; you don’t build a house until you’re really sure you own the land.