Warners and Fox Not Close To Settlement In 'Watchmen' Standoff

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Warners and Fox Not Close To Settlement In 'Watchmen' Standoff

Mon Sep 22, 2008 @ 10:34AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Watchmen The Warners-Fox slugfest over "Watchmen" is very hot. The two sides are on track to meet for trial in January to determine who owns the rights to distribute a film based on the cult graphic novel. The scheduled release for Warners' $100 million-plus picture comes two months later, in March, making this case resemble a high-stakes, no-limit Texas hold'em poker game.

Over the weekend, the NY Times had a good update on the case, drawing attention to film producer Lawrence Gordon’s role in the dispute, as well as previewing Warner's likely contention in court that Gordon offered “Watchmen” to every studio in town, including Fox.

It's almost unfathomable that a case like this won't be settled, but the NYT's Michael Cieply reports that both sides are entrenching, with a great deal of personal animosity towards the perceived slights from the other studio. All hell seemingly has broken loose in the discovery phase of this case:

"Warner executives, according to people briefed on the matter, have privately speculated that Fox, faced with weakening performance at the box office, was angling for a small cut of the movie — perhaps 5 percent of its gross receipts. But Fox executives, also according to people briefed on the matter, were put off by what they saw as Warners' failure to take their claims seriously, and delivered a shock by filing suit in February. As of this week the studios were jostling each other over what Fox now claims is Warners' slow and inadequate compliance with orders to supply documents and witness lists under a schedule that may well put the movie — and at least four studios — in front of jurors rather than fans."

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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 [email protected]

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