I am somewhat of a poster boy for not being a big fan of the current 20th Century Fox regime. So it may come as a bit of a shock, especially after my brief post the other day, to read that that I feel like the enormous overreaction from the online community regarding the “Watchmen” lawsuit is misguided, to say the least. There are many things that 20th Century Fox and Tom Rothman could answer for. This lawsuit, though, does not appear to be one of them.
I’ve been on the phone a lot the last few days talking to friends who are lawywers, friends who work for Fox and who have worked for Fox in the past, friends at Warner Bros… and I’ve been doing my best to sort out for myself what the situation really is, and not just what the situation is that’s being played out via posturing between lawyers.
My take on it is this: it sounds like the issue boils down to the language of a particular turnaround agreement. Gordon’s side seems to be that he was given the right to make the film anywhere he wanted because Fox had passed on the movie as part of his overall settlement. Fox, on the other hand, says that the agreement was either a buyout cost (never paid) or the right to make the film if something significant changed.
When they passed on the film, keep in mind, it was the Terry Gilliam/Sam Hamm package they were passing on. And, uh, that’s a good thing, actually. Like both those guys. Reeeeeeally don’t like the script they put together. I am glad Fox didn’t make that version. Gordon says when he left the studio, that film was one of the films he took with him. Definitely. Fox says they still had first refusal each time the key elements changed. Which they say Gordon didn’t give them.
So there are two very different versions of that agreement being debated. And if Fox is right, and if they did contact Warner Bros repeatedly before they started shooting, then someone’s going to have to eventually explain that decision. It sounds to me, like I said, you’re going to see an amazing four production logos on the film. Fox. Warner. Paramount. Legendary. Smaller and smaller pieces of the pie for everybody, all in the service of this incredibly risky and fascinating take on the classic graphic novel. And I think you’ll see it on time, relatively intact. Snyder was already cutting the film back a little more for theatrical when these decisions came in. You will see the whole thing by Christmas of 2009 on BluRay and DVD and digital download and whatever new SF movie watching gadget gets invented next year. Including the “Black Freighter” stuff.
But no squid.