Warner Bros. Wants Watchmen Verdict Moved Up

Warner Bros. Wants Watchmen Verdict Moved Up

Warner Bros. wants an earlier-than-scheduled verdict in the hearing over Fox’s claims to distribution rights.

The future of Zack Snyder’s live-action adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen—arguably the most-anticipated comic book movie of the decade—is in doubt and Warner Bros. is itching to know the verdict. Fox initially filed suit against Warner Bros. in February 2008, claiming that the studio still held the distribution rights to the film. In a preliminary ruling on December 24th, Judge Gary A. Feess declared that Fox does have the rights to distribute the film because producer Lawrence Gordon failed to secure Fox’s entire interest in the Watchmen.

Only yesterday, Warner Bros. and Fox agreed to allow the final decision over the release date to be decided on January 20th by a court judge. Today, Warner Bros. has asked that the decision date be moved up to as early as Monday, January 12th. In papers filed this week, attorneys for Warner Bros. claim that “time is critical” for the decision as the Watchmen marketing campaign for the intended March 6th release will cost millions of dollars. The key decision involves whether Fox will be allowed to stop the film’s release altogether or whether the studios will have to go to trial over monetary damages. Warner Bros. is citing an eBay suit that decided that a plaintiff in a copyright-infringement case must prove that they will be irreparably harmed without an injunction, which they claim is not the case with Fox. Warner Bros. cites Fox’s lack of interest in pursuing the Watchmen property versus their own $150M-plus, "carefully choreographed" film strategy.

A press conference is scheduled for tomorrow in Feess’ courtroom. Warner Bros. is expected to call live witnesses to the proceeding while Fox is expected to rely on previously-submitted written testimony.

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