Warner Bros and Fox settle Watchmen dispute

Zack Snyder's hotly-anticipated adaptation of the Alan Moore graphic novel set for release on March 6

Watchmen, the eagerly-awaited big-screen version of Alan Moore's graphic novel, will hit cinemas on March 6 after all, now that a long-running Hollywood battle over distribution rights has been settled out of court.

Warner Bros, which has spent more than $130m developing the project, said yesterday it had reached an agreement to pay rival studio Twentieth Century Fox an upfront cash fee and a percentage of the film's final gross. Variety reports that the initial sum, which is to reimburse Fox for legal costs and development work the studio conducted in the early 90s, could reach a figure of between $5m (£3.3m) and $10m. Fox will also receive between 5% and 8.5% of gross box-office takings, a figure that could run into the millions if the film performs well.

The settlement means Warner Bros can roll out Watchmen on its originally scheduled release date and Fox won't have its logo on the film. Until recently it had looked as if an impasse between the studios might cause Los Angeles judge Gary Feess to issue an injunction halting the film's release until the matter had been decided in court.

The two studios yesterday released a joint statement which read: "Warner Bros and Twentieth Century Fox have resolved their dispute regarding the rights to the upcoming motion picture Watchmen in a confidential settlement. 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 Brothers acted in good faith in defending against those claims. Warner Bros and Fox, like all Watchmen fans, look forward with great anticipation to this film's March 6 release in theatres."

The debate over Watchmen rested on Fox's contention that it retained distribution rights under a 1994 agreement with producer Larry Gordon, who took the project to Warners after attempts to make it with Fox, Universal and Paramount. Judge Feess decided on Christmas Eve that Fox maintained at the very least distribution rights, and urged the two parties to come to a settlement rather than fight it out in court.

The agreement marks the second time in four years that Warner Bros has paid out over rights. The $17.5m it was reportedly forced to part with to settle claims over 2005's Dukes of Hazzard is likely to be eclipsed by the final Watchmen figure.

Contributor

Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Film review: Watchmen

Dark wit and vivid characters abound in Watchmen but the film falls far short of the brilliance of Alan Moore's graphic novel, thinks Philip French

Philip French

08, Mar, 2009 @12:01 AM

Watchmen watch: March release date still stands

The preliminary injunction sought by Fox over Warner Bros concerning film rights to Alan Moore's graphic novel has been refused by a US judge

Ben Child

03, Sep, 2008 @9:00 AM

Article image
You review: Watchmen

Ben Child: Did you catch Zack Snyder's big-screen transfer of Alan Moore's epoch-making graphic novel? Was it a super spectacle or an almighty mess? And more importantly, did you know what you were letting yourself in for?

Ben Child

09, Mar, 2009 @5:26 PM

Film trailer: Watchmen

Zack Snyder's hotly-anticipated adaptation of the seminal Alan Moore graphic novel about superheroes in an alternative postwar universe

20, Jan, 2009 @2:26 PM

Article image
Lost the magic? Warner Bros struggles with Witches criticism and Depp's shame
The studio is dealing with censure from disability campaigners in its Anne Hathaway vehicle and must decide whether to recast Johnny Depp’s Fantastic Beasts role

Ben Child

05, Nov, 2020 @4:46 PM

Paramount takes its eye off Watchmen

After weeks of speculation, Paramount has officially confirmed that it has pulled the plug on its film adaptation of Watchmen, Alan Moore's celebrated graphic novel.

Staff and agencies

07, Jun, 2005 @11:30 AM

Article image
Why Fox is licking its lips over Watchmen

Phil Hoad: A Christmas Eve ruling on the disputed rights to Alan Moore's graphic novel has left Warner forlorn and the film's release date up in the air

Phil Hoad

30, Dec, 2008 @10:00 AM

Article image
Hobbit animal abuse claims: Warner Bros backs Peter Jackson
Ben Child: Studio denies the accusations, which it says come from disgruntled handlers who worked on the set and were dismissed with 'just cause'

Ben Child

23, Nov, 2012 @2:30 PM

Watchmen - the hype machine begins

Ben Child: Warner Bros has kickstarted its viral hype machine for what's being billed as the ultimate superhero movie

Ben Child

11, Feb, 2009 @10:58 AM

Article image
Hobbit gambling rights: Warner Bros countersues JRR Tolkien estate

Ben Child: The film studio is claiming damaged profits over a casino gaming deal for the Hobbit, while the Tolkien estate accuses it of bullying

Ben Child

14, Mar, 2013 @2:52 PM