Warner Bros. has been heavily hyping Watchmen, its film version of the popular graphic novel. The trailer (shown before The Dark Knight and now online) is a hit, and the film’s presentation got a great reception at Comic-Con. So this should be a major hit for Warner in 2009–if 20th Century Fox doesn’t put the kibosh on it first.
The rival studio filed a lawsuit this past February, claiming that they own the distribution rights to any movie based on Watchmen–because of agreements they reached with producer Larry Gordon and his business entities. Fox says Warner Bros. engaged in copyright infringement and interference with Fox’s contract rights
Warner tried to get the suit dismissed, but today a federal judge denied this motion, meaning that the legal battle will continue. Both Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox released statements (below, courtesy of Deadline Hollywood Daily) indicating that they intend to fight for their rights (until they settle, of course).
Warner Bros.: “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.”
20th Century Fox: “Warner Brothers’ production and anticipated release of The Watchmen motion picture violates Twentieth Century Fox’s long-standing motion picture rights in The Watchmen property. We will be asking the Court to enforce Fox’s copyright interests in The Watchmen and enjoin the release of the Warner Brothers film and any related Watchmen media that violate our copyright interests in that property.”
Sidenote: Since the film is a co-production with Paramount, why isn’t Paramount also being sued?
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