Monday, January 12, 2009

Watchmen Settlement Looms....

Watchmen Settlement Looms

Studios say talks have been productive

by Jim Vejvoda

January9, 2009 - Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox are reportedly making progress on talks to settle their legal feud over the rights to Watchmen.

According to both Associated Press and Variety, lawyers for the warring studios have asked U.S. District Judge Gary Allen Feess to delay a hearing that was to be held today so that they can continue settlement talks through the weekend. The judge agreed to delay the hearing until Monday, and also informed the studios that the case remains scheduled to go to trial January 20.

Today's hearing was to have yielded Judge Feess' ruling on whether he'd grant Fox's request to block Warners' March 6th release date for Watchmen.

Meanwhile, Fox has fired back at Watchmen producer Lloyd Levin, who issued an open letter yesterday slamming the studio's lawsuit. In a statement picked up by Deadline Hollywood Daily, Fox responded, "We appreciate Mr. Levin's passion for this project, but he has neglected basic facts and legal rulings. First, Fox notified Warner Bros of our rights in this project months before production on the film began -- they chose to ignore our rights on this occasion and several times after that and proceeded at their own risk; 2) only after having our rights in the film deliberately ignored by Warner Bros. did we take the action of filing litigation in order to have those rights recognized; and 3) on Judge Feess' Christmas Eve order, he specifically ruled that WB had been timely notified and that Fox, in fact, had the rights we asserted. There is no question of who is right and who is wrong. That has been decided through the litigation that we had hoped to avoid, and we refer interested parties to the court's ruling to confirm these statements."

Levin's producing partner on Watchmen, Lawrence Gordon, has been cited by Judge Feess as the instigator of all the film's legal troubles after Feess said that Gordon, who isn't a defendant in the case, failed to adequately answer questions about the film rights' chain of ownership during depositions. Now Gordon has sent a letter to the judge, details of which can be found at The Hollywood Reporter.