Geeks around the globe can celebrate today, as what has become the comic book trial of the century has finally come to an amicable close after nearly a year. Following some worrisome moments over the past few months, lawyers from Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox have agreed to a settlement over rights to “Watchmen.”
The details of the settlement will reportedly be presented to U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess Friday morning (January 16), with a formal request to have the case dismissed. While the terms were not disclosed to the press, it has been reported that Fox will receive sizable cash payments and a percentage of the box-office grosses from “Watchmen.” Fox will not be a co-distributor of the film, however, nor will it obtain or co-own the “Watchmen” property.
The real reason for fans to celebrate, though, is that the film’s March 6 release date — which was recently put in jeopardy by the suit — will apparently not be affected by the settlement, as noted in an official joint statement released to the press by both sides.
“Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox have resolved their dispute regarding the rights to the upcoming motion picture ’Watchmen’ in a confidential settlement,” the statement says. “Warner Bros. acknowledges that Fox acted in good faith in bringing its claims, which were asserted prior to the start of principal photography. Fox acknowledges that Warner Bros. acted in good faith in defending against those claims. Warner Bros. and Fox, like all ’Watchmen’ fans, look forward with great anticipation to this film’s March 6 release in theaters.”
The legal drama over the movie began back in February 2008, when Fox sued Warner Bros. over copyright infringement, based on agreements the studio had with producer Larry Gordon. On Christmas Eve, Judge Feess ruled that Gordon did not own the rights to “Watchmen” prior to shopping them to numerous studios — therefore granting movie rights back to Fox, Settlement talks quickly escalated after Warner Bros. faced a worst-case scenario of a possible delay in the release date of the $130 million film.
While Gordon has thus far managed to avoid any legal action involving “Watchmen” and was not a party to the case, it is rumored that the studio may seek compensation from him and his representation for legal costs incurred during the ordeal.
In the end, fans can be happy that the case ended relatively quickly for all involved. At long last, we can answer the question, “Who watches the Watchmen?” Come March 6, all of us can.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Watchmen.”
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