Judge Says Fox Owns Rights to a Warner Movie
LOS ANGELES — In a surprise ruling, a federal judge in Los Angeles said he intended to grant 20th Century Fox’s claim that it owns a copyright interest in the “Watchmen,” a movie shot by Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures and set for release in March.
The decision was disclosed in a five-page written order issued on Wednesday. Gary A. Feess, a judge in the United States District Court for Central California, said he would provide a more detailed order soon.
Fox has been seeking to prevent Warner from releasing the film. The superhero adventure, based on the “Watchmen” graphic novel, is being directed by Zack Snyder (who also directed “300”) and has shaped up as one of most eagerly anticipated releases for next year.
A Warner spokesman, Scott Rowe, declined to comment on the ruling and the studio’s plans.
At an earlier hearing, the judge said he believed that issues in the case could be settled only at a trial, which was scheduled for late January. On Wednesday, however, Judge Feess said he had reconsidered and concluded that Fox should prevail on crucial issues.
“Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the ‘Watchmen’ motion picture,” the ruling said.
Fox acquired rights to the “Watchmen” graphic novel in the late 1980s for the producer Lawrence Gordon, but eventually dropped its own plan to make a movie from its story, about the underside of life for superbeings.
Mr. Gordon later pursued the project with Universal Pictures, and then with Paramount Pictures, before shooting it with Warner and Legendary under an arrangement that allows Paramount to distribute the film abroad.
In ruling on Wednesday, Judge Feess advised both Fox and Warner to look toward a settlement or an appeal.
“The parties may wish to turn their efforts from preparing for trial to negotiating a resolution of this dispute or positioning the case for review,” he said.
My thoughts: Fox has every right to do what they are doing. I just hope they continue to release the film, even if it's under their name.
How this affects Harry Potter:
So Fox now owns the rights to "Watchmen" the new film adaptation of the graphic novel, which is easily one of the most anticipated comic book movies of next year. To make a long story short, Warner Brothers financed the film and was planning to distribute in March but on December 24th a Los Angeles judge gave the rights to Fox. Essentially, this means Warner Brothers made a free film for Fox to distribute and profit from. How does this effect Harry Potter?
I think this is one of the larger reasons why Half Blood Prince was pushed back because Warner Brothers was anticipating this would happen. They spent a lot of money in "Watchmen" and they will make no profit, now Half Blood Prince will have to make that all up.
Peace! Have a happy holiday!