On Christmas Eve, Fox and Warner's battle over Watchmen rights took a decidedly pro-Fox turn when the judge on the case wished Warner Bros. Merry Christmas (said really sarcastically), ruling Fox does have a copyright stake in the film's release. Now Warner is calling B. shit and Fox is threatening to delay the film's planned March release. Happy New Year (again, really sarcastic):
In a defiant statement issued Monday, Warners said it was prepared to go to trial or to appeal last week's ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess, who stated that the studio had infringed on Fox's copyright in making the adaptation of the Alan Moore superhero graphic novel.
"We respectfully but vigorously disagree with the court's ruling and are exploring all of our appellate options," the studio said. "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."
Fox, meanwhile, is looking for an injunction against the March 6, 2009, release of the movie.
Monday's events seem to be a speed bump to a costly settlement, with the hardline postures likely a strategic move for both sides more than anything else. Fox, which finally snapped a long boxoffice losing streak with "Marley & Me," gains most with a settlement, not a blocked release; the studio is already taking a beating in the geek blogosphere for messing with a fan-favorite property. Warners, meanwhile, could be on the hook for millions for developing and then filming a movie in which the film's producer, Larry Gordon, didn't pay Fox turnaround fees after allegedly reacquiring rights to the property.
Oh, brother. Can't they just settle it the old fashioned way, with each side placing an animal of a pre-decided species into a sack and seeing which competitor emerges? America was built on Animal Sack Wars. Let's continue the great tradition and get this inevitably-disappointing movie into theaters.