'Watchmen' Watch: Tallying the opening weekend grosses/damages

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'Watchmen' Watch: Tallying the opening weekend grosses/damages

Mon Mar 09, 2009 @ 03:33PM PST

By Eriq Gardner 


Watchmenmovie The reviews weren't great. The opening weekend boxoffice numbers were mediocre. But what about the litigation returns on "Watchmen"?

We'll still have to wait and see.

Over the weekend, the film we've been writing about and writing about and writing about and writing about pulled in $55.7 million domestically for Warner Bros. But Fox gets a piece of that revenue (as much as 8.5% if the film is a megahit) as part of the settlement of the  litigation between the studios over who had the right to distribute the picture.

Judging by a NYU's professor's regression model on how opening weekend box office numbers predict total movie grosses, and adjusting downward due to expected higher-than-normal opening weekend geek fandom, we'd expect this film to eventually gross about, or just above, $130 million domestically when all is said and done (Paramount holds overseas rights). Funny enough, that happens to be the same figure as the reported budget of the film.

Surely that won't be enough to trigger the full 8.5% payout, will it? Minimal profits means a limited payout,right?

Then there's Larry Gordon. A couple weeks ago, we wrote about the veteran producer's strange position watching box office returns on "Watchmen":

"The better the film does, the more he could pocket as a profit participant but the more he might have to fork over to make Warners whole. That’s because Warners claims its agreements with Gordon contain an indemnity clause requiring the producer to reimburse it for unforeseen problems with the picture."

Funny enough, at the rate this film is going, Gordon may be lucky enough, or unlucky enough — depending on how one wants to see this — as not being caught up in any further litigation. But given this film's litigious history, the prospect of strife-free resolution seems unlikely.

Meanwhile, in other "Watchmen" related legal news, Warner Bros. is demanding on copyright grounds that websites pull down streams of the film's innovative title sequence. Obviously, those title sequences are still floating out there, but the studio's take-down notices have elicited comments like this one: "I will never understand Hollywood’s approach to free publicity."

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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