According to a New York Times article, Fox's Watchmen lawsuit came to an abrupt end on December 24, 2008.
After initially denying a motion to rule in Fox's favor before trial, the federal court judge in the case reversed and ruled that:
Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the ‘Watchmen’ motion picture.
In essence, the judge has found that producer Lawrence Gordon's grant of distribution rights in Watchmen to Warner Brothers was invalid and in violation of Gordon's agreement with Fox.
Warner Brothers now has limited options if it wants to ensure the March 6, 2009 of the Watchmen movie. The quickest path to maintaining the release schedule is through a quick settlement, which would undoubtedly give Fox an interest in the film's future profits and reimburse Fox's development costs.
If no settlement is reached, it is entirely possible that the judge may impose remedies requested by Fox, including an injunction against the releasing of the film at all.
If, on the other hand, Warner Brothers chooses to appeal the ruling, a delay in the March 6, 2009 release is highly likely. Appealing a final judgment is a lengthy process that could potentially extend this case for longer than a trial.
Thanks to Rodney Perkins of Film Esq. for help in writing this article. For more information about the Watchmen lawsuit and other Hollywood legal cases, please visit Rodney's Web site at www.filmesq.com.
12.29.08 Source: New York Times
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