Watchmen Drama Continues!

As reported earlier, Jan. 20 is the court date set for the Watchmen dispute when Judge Gary A. Feess will decide whether to issue an injunction against the film’s release.

However, Warner Bros. is asking that the hearing be moved up as early as Monday siting “time is critical” as their reasons. Specifically, the comic book adaptation is scheduled for a March 6 bow, and the studio must soon commit tens of millions of dollars in marketing for a film that aren’t sure they’ll be able to release.

Feess made a preliminary ruling on Christmas Eve that Fox has a right to distribute the film. Feess found that producer Lawrence Gordon failed to acquitre Fox’s entire interest in the Alan Moore penned graphic novel, thereby leaving Fox without rights under the 1994 turnaround agreement.

In an off screen drama that would make Terry Gilliam cringe, the two studios are now battling over the key issue of whether that decision allows Fox to stop the film’s release or whether the parties should proceed to a trail over money damages.

Warner Bros. claims that Fox “abandoned” the Watchmen property and that Warners has spent more than $150 million to make and market the film in a “carefully choreographed” plan to peak moviegoers interest on March 6.

A status conference is scheduled for Friday morning on Feess’ Los Angeles courtroom to determine when the hearing will take place. The hearing is expected to last two to three days and could feature testimony from top studio executives like Warner Bros. domestic distribution head Dan Fellman.

If the injunction is granted, Warner Bros. would be barred from releasing the film, though it would likely appeal immediately. Feess has encouraged both parties to settle the dispute.


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