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'Watchmen': It's settled

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Wm_ozymandias_l

The war over Watchmen between Fox and Warner Bros. is over. The settlement, finalized late Thursday, has Warner Bros. forking over a chunk of change (including old development costs, plus interest) and a portion of the film’s theatrical revenues. The L.A. Times reports the cash figure at $1.5 million (though Variety says it could be as much as $10 million), while multiple reports say Warner Bros. might be ceding as much as 8.5 percent of the box office receipts. Fox will also get a piece of future sequels or spin-offs (which are unlikely), but it does not appear that the company will be sharing in revenues generated from DVD sales and licensed merchandise.

And so ends months of enormous free publicity for Watchmen, which not so long ago was deemed a marketing-challenged gamble, being that it’s an R-rated, 2 hour-plus superhero epic based on characters nobody knows. But director Zack Snyder’s dark opus now enjoys intense Must See buzz thanks to the mainstream media’s intense interest in Fox’s dogged pursuit of justice, not to mention Warner Bros.’ decision not resolve the matter until six weeks prior to the movie’s March 6 release, just as billboards and TV ads begin flooding the national mediasphere. Well played, folks. Well played.

Perhaps the most curious aspect of the peace pact was the joint

statement issued by both studios: “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.” This

statement is no doubt intended for fanboys and bloggers who’ve been

hating hard on both companies throughout this mess. When the Watchmen legal

fight reached the court of public opinion, the noisy-pissy geek pop

lobby — already embittered toward Fox for various crimes against

comicbookdom (See: Fantastic Four; Daredevil) and for showing little to zero prior interest in making a Watchmen

movie itself — wrongly charged the studio of not pressing its claims

sooner in order to get maximum leverage on Warner Bros. Clearly, Fox is

hoping that these well-negotiated words attributed to Warner Bros. will

publicly exonerate the company for merely doing the right thing.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. — which got spanked on Christmas Eve by a

judge who said Fox “at the very least” had distribution rights to Watchmen

— got Fox to say…something. That deep down, they’re actually good

eggs, I guess, even though they made a movie they had no right to make.

Whatever. The movie’s coming out. End of story.

Footnote: This entire case hinged on a contract that Fox had with Watchmen

producer Larry Gordon — a contract which Gordon told the court he

couldn’t properly recollect. According to the legal papers filed by

Fox, Gordon always had the opportunity to buy out Fox’s stake in Watchmen

at anytime. It even spelled out the terms: a cash buy out of Fox’s

previously accrued costs and a smaller percentage of revenues than the

one Warner Bros. now has to pay. If only Gordon had remembered to honor

his obligation, he could have saved Warner Bros. some money here. Oh,

well. Those Warner Bros. are good egg people — I’m sure they’ll just

forgive and forget. Right?

More Watchmen from EW:
Judge In ‘Watchmen’ Case Rules For Fox; Fans Brace For Fallout
Watchmen trial set for Jan. 20

Watchmen vs. Star Trek: Pick best trailer
Watchmen: Zack Snyder hosts a sneak peek
Watchmen worth the fuss: Kevin Smith
Flashback! Watchmen war: Fanboys furious with Fox
Watchmen: Exclusive First Look! 
Watchmen: A Chat with Director Zack Snyder (July 2008) 
Watchmen Creator Alan Moore: The EW Q&A (July 2008)
Watchmen: A Primer for Newcomers 

Perhaps the most curious aspect of the peace pact was the jointstatement issued by both studios: “Warner Bros. acknowledges that Foxacted in good faith in bringing its claims, which were asserted priorto the start of principal photography. Fox acknowledges that WarnerBros. acted in good faith in defending against those claims.” Thisstatement is no doubt intended for fanboys and bloggers who’ve beenhating hard on both companies throughout this mess. When the Watchmen legalfight reached the court of public opinion, the noisy-pissy geek poplobby — already embittered toward Fox for various crimes againstcomicbookdom (See: Fantastic Four; Daredevil) and for showing little to zero prior interest in making a Watchmenmovie itself — wrongly charged the studio of not pressing its claimssooner in order to get maximum leverage on Warner Bros. Clearly, Fox ishoping that these well-negotiated words attributed to Warner Bros. willpublicly exonerate the company for merely doing the right thing.Meanwhile, Warner Bros. — which got spanked on Christmas Eve by ajudge who said Fox “at the very least” had distribution rights to Watchmen— got Fox to say…something. That deep down, they’re actually goodeggs, I guess, even though they made a movie they had no right to make.

Whatever. The movie’s coming out. End of story.

Footnote: This entire case hinged on a contract that Fox had with Watchmenproducer Larry Gordon — a contract which Gordon told the court hecouldn’t properly recollect. According to the legal papers filed byFox, Gordon always had the opportunity to buy out Fox’s stake in Watchmenat anytime. It even spelled out the terms: a cash buy out of Fox’spreviously accrued costs and a smaller percentage of revenues than theone Warner Bros. now has to pay. If only Gordon had remembered to honorhis obligation, he could have saved Warner Bros. some money here. Oh,well. Those Warner Bros. are good egg people — I’m sure they’ll justforgive and forget. Right?

More Watchmen from EW:
Judge In ‘Watchmen’ Case Rules For Fox; Fans Brace For Fallout
Watchmen trial set for Jan. 20

Watchmen vs. Star Trek: Pick best trailer
Watchmen: Zack Snyder hosts a sneak peek
Watchmen worth the fuss: Kevin Smith
Flashback! Watchmen war: Fanboys furious with Fox
Watchmen: Exclusive First Look! 
Watchmen: A Chat with Director Zack Snyder (July 2008) 
Watchmen Creator Alan Moore: The EW Q&A (July 2008)
Watchmen: A Primer for Newcomers