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A Biased Open Letter From The Watchmen Producer

By John - January 9, 2009 - 06:44 America/Montreal - 53 Comments

Bias isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. Bias in many cases isn’t a CHOICE. It is, more often than not, a result of circumstances someone finds themselves in. Bias enters the conversation when the person involved stands to gain or lose or has a vested interest in the result of a given situation. That’s not the person’s fault… it’s just the result of their circumstances. In that way being biased neither makes you good or bad. If your house was on fire, you would be very biased in your desire to see the fire department arrive sooner rather than later. If your place of employment was making job cuts, you would be biased in your opinion of who should be allowed to stay and who should be fired.

And, in the same vein, if you were a producer of a mega budget Hollywood movie that you stood to gain or lose a fortune on, you would, through no fault of your own, be extremely biased on any issue relating to your film getting released. Being biased isn’t a negative reflection on the character of that individual… it’s just something that the observer has to weigh and keep in mind when evaluating the opinion of those who are in the biased position.

With that being said, Lloyd Levin, producer of Watchmen, has issued an open letter to the public giving his thoughts and knowledge of the current legal battle between WB and Fox regarding the release of the movie. The following open letter comes to us through Hitfix:

Who is right? In the Watchmen dispute between Warner Brothers and Fox that question is being discussed, analyzed, argued, tried and ruled on in a court of law. That’s one way to answer the question - It is a fallback position in our society for parties in conflict to resolve disputes. And there are teams of lawyers and a highly regarded Federal Judge trying to do just that, which obviates any contribution I could make towards answering the “who is right” question within a legal context. But after 15 plus years of involvement in the project, and a decade more than that working in the movie business, I have another perspective, a personal perspective that I believe important to have on the public record.

No one is more keenly aware of the irony of this dispute than Larry Gordon and I who have been trying to get this movie made for many years. There’s a list of people who have rejected the viability of a movie based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic graphic novel that reads like a who’s who of Hollywood.

We’ve been told the graphic novel is unfilmable.

After 9/11 some felt the story’s themes were too close to reality ever to be palatable to a mainstream audience.

There were those who considered the project but who wished it were somehow different: Could it be a buddy movie, or a team-up movie or could it focus on one main character; did it have to be so dark; did so many people have to die; could it be stripped of its flashback structure; could storylines be eliminated; could new storylines be invented; did it have to be so long; could the blue guy put clothes on… The list of dissatisfactions for what Watchmen is was as endless as the list of suggestions to make it something it never was.

Also endless are the list of studio rejections we accrued over the years. Larry and I developed screenplays at five different studios. We had two false starts in production on the movie. We were involved with prominent and commercial directors. Big name stars were interested. In one instance hundreds of people were employed, sets were being built - An A-list director and top artists in the industry were given their walking papers when the studio financing the movie lost faith.

After all these years of rejection, this is the same project, the same movie, over which two studios are now spending millions of dollars contesting ownership. Irony indeed, and then some.

Through the years, inverse of the lack of studio faith has been the passionate belief by many many individuals - movie professionals who were also passionate fans of the graphic novel - who, yes, wanted to work on the film, but more for reasons of just wanting to see the movie get made, to see this movie get made and made right, donated their time and talent to help push the film forward: Writers gave us free screenplay drafts; conceptual art was supplied by illustrators, tests were performed gratis by highly respected actors and helped along and put together by editors, designers, prop makers and vfx artists; we were the recipients of donated studio and work space, lighting and camera equipment. Another irony, given the commercial stakes implied by the pitched legal dispute between Fox and Warners, is that for years Watchmen has been a project that has survived on the fumes of whatever could be begged, borrowed and stolen - A charity case for all intents and purposes. None of that effort, none of that passion and emotional involvement, is considered in the framework of this legal dispute.

From my point of view, the flashpoint of this dispute, came in late spring of 2005. Both Fox and Warner Brothers were offered the chance to make Watchmen. They were submitted the same package, at the same time. It included a cover letter describing the project and its history, budget information, a screenplay, the graphic novel, and it made mention that a top director was involved.

And it’s at this point, where the response from both parties could not have been more radically different.

The response we got from Fox was a flat “pass.” That’s it. An internal Fox email documents that executives there felt the script was one of the most unintelligible pieces of shit they had read in years. Conversely, Warner Brothers called us after having read the script and said they were interested in the movie - yes, they were unsure of the screenplay, and had many questions, but wanted to set a meeting to discuss the project, which they promptly did. Did anyone at Fox ask to meet on the movie? No. Did anyone at Fox express any interest in the movie? No. Express even the slightest interest in the movie? Or the graphic novel? No.

From there, the executives at Warner Brothers, who weren’t yet completely comfortable with the movie, made a deal to acquire the movie rights and we all started to creatively explore the possibility of making Watchmen. We discussed creative approaches and started offering the movie to directors, our former director having moved on by then. After a few director submissions, Zack Snyder came onboard, well before the release of his movie 300. In fact, well before its completion. This was a gut, creative call by Larry, me and the studio… Zack didn’t have a huge commercial track record, yet we all felt he was the right guy for the movie.

Warner Brothers continued to support, both financially and creatively, the development of the movie. And eventually, after over a year of work, they agreed to make the film, based on a script that, for what it’s worth, was by and large very similar to the one Fox initially read and deemed an unintelligible piece of shit.

Now here’s the part that has to be fully appreciated, if for nothing more than providing insight into producing movies in Hollywood: The Watchmen script was way above the norm in length, near 150 pages, meaning the film could clock in at close to 3 hours, the movie would not only be R rated but a hard R - for graphic violence and explicit sex - would feature no stars, and had a budget north of $100M. We also asked Warner Brothers to support an additional 1 to 1.5 hours of content incurring additional cost that would tie in with the movie but only be featured in DVD iterations of the film. Warners supported the whole package and I cannot begin to emphasize how ballsy and unprecedented a move this was on the part of a major Hollywood studio. Unheard of. And would another studio in Hollywood, let alone a studio that didn’t show one shred of interest in the movie, not one, have taken such a risk? Would they ever have made such a commitment, a commitment to a film that defied all conventional wisdom?

Only the executives at Fox can answer that question. But if they were to be honest, their answer would have to be “No.”

Shouldn’t Warner Brothers be entitled to the spoils - if any — of the risk they took in supporting and making Watchmen? Should Fox have any claim on something they could have had but chose to neither support nor show any interest in?

Look at it another way… One reason the movie was made was because Warner Brothers spent the time, effort and money to engage with and develop the project. If Watchmen was at Fox the decision to make the movie would never have been made because there was no interest in moving forward with the project.

Does a film studio have the right to stand in the way of an artistic endeavor and determine that it shouldn’t exist? If the project had been sequestered at Fox, if Fox had any say in the matter, Watchmen simply wouldn’t exist today, and there would be no film for Fox to lay claim on. It seems beyond cynical for the studio to claim ownership at this point.

By his own admission, Judge Feess is faced with an extremely complex legal case, with a contradictory contractual history, making it difficult to ascertain what is legally right. Are there circumstances here that are more meaningful, which shed light on what is ultimately just, to be taken into account when assessing who is right? In this case, what is morally right, beyond the minutiae of decades-old contractual semantics, seems clear cut.

For the sake of the artists involved, for the hundreds of people, executives and filmmakers, actors and crew, who invested their time, their money, and dedicated a good portion of their lives in order to bring this extraordinary project to life, the question of what is right is clear and unambiguous - Fox should stand down with its claim.

My father, who was a lawyer and a stickler for the minutiae of the law, was always quick to teach me that the determination of what is right and wrong was not the sole purview of the courts. I bet someone at Fox had a parent like mine who instilled the same sense of fairness and justice in them.

Lloyd Levin”

It’s a good open letter. But my thoughts on it are this: Aside from the completely biased position Lloyd is in, it’s still pretty much totally pointless.

The main thrust of the letter seems to be that Fox wasn’t going to make Watchmen into a movie. Ok, fine. The problem is that has never really been the question. That’s also never really been disputed. The question of this legal battle has NEVER been if Fox was going to make the movie. The question… the ONLY question of this dispute has been who owns the rights. PERIOD.

As I, and others have mentioned before, if you own something then you have the right to put it in your living room and use it everyday or the right to put it in a box up in your attic for 50 years never to see the light of day. It’s yours. You can do, or not do with it as you please.

At the end of the day the issue here is STILL that WB failed to do the proper diligence to ensure they actually had the right to make Watchmen. They failed to do so (as a judge has already ruled). Now this mess is here. Fox (and trust me, I like WB a lot more than Fox) is simply doing what they have the right, and legal obligation to do… protect their legal rights.

But I do take one issue with Levin’s letter. The patronizing paragraph that reads: “For the sake of the artists involved, for the hundreds of people, executives and filmmakers, actors and crew, who invested their time, their money, and dedicated a good portion of their lives in order to bring this extraordinary project to life, the question of what is right is clear and unambiguous - Fox should stand down with its claim.” I call bullshit. All those people got paid Lloyd. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that no one individual stands to make more here than you… and that’s what this is really all about.

Lloyd Levin is the single most biased individual in this entire situation. And that’s not Lloyd’s fault, nor is it a negative reflection on Lloyd in the least. It’s simply the circumstances he finds himself in that make it that way. And, as I mentioned near the beginning of this post, Levin being biased isn’t a reflection on him as an individual… it’s simply something that you and I have to weigh and keep in mind when considering his opinion and comments on the matter he is biased in.

That’s my point of view. What’s yours? Share in the comments section.


  1. Josh V. says:

    I agree and disagree with you on some points. First of all, this is WB’s fault. Making sure you can make the movie should be the first thing you do when discussing it. But the fact that Fox was never going to make it, nor had any interest in making it since their acquisition, makes me glad Warner Bros went ahead anyway. Owning something tangent is different than owning something that hasn’t even been made yet. Owning but not using something that other people would like seems unfair in this case. Fox has the right to stop Watchmen from being distributed (which by the way they could have stopped during early pre-production, but waited until the last second, alienating every fan, and smearing Fox’s name with their consumers), but it is not morally right to stop anyone else from making the movie just because you’re selfish.

    Then again, all of this could have been avoided if Warner had just did their homework and bought the rights. Hindsight’s 20/20. And the ones learning the lesson are us.

  2. John says:

    Hey Josh V

    I only have one issue with your comment. You said:

    “Fox has the right to stop Watchmen from being distributed (which by the way they could have stopped during early pre-production, but waited until the last second”

    As I’ve mentioned a few times over the last few weeks… in this overly litigation happy culture, taking something or someone to court should be your last resort. Fox did in fact communicate with WB a long time ago and had been trying to get WB to work something out. Only after they felt they no longer had any choice they launched litigation… which is the proper thing to do.

  3. Dave Sztypuljak says:

    I completely agree with your closing statements John. You also said it in your podcast last week; if when you buy a house, you have a lawyer making sure that all the legalities are in order, then surely the mutiple lawyers that WB have should have gone through due diligence and made sure that everything they are buying from Fox was in order and gave them the rights to distribute the film without all this mess happening!

    The more and more I read about it, the more ludicrous it seems! This letter seems to admit the fact that they screwed up and seem to have Levin tugging on the heart-strings of Fox. The problem I think he’ll come up against though is that for us fans, we just want to see this movie we’ve waited so long to see, For Fox, this is big business and that (unfortauntely for us), to them, is what it’s all about.

  4. Kevin says:

    That’s an interesting letter. It seems to show a lot of passion, but I agree someone screwed up, and the people that own the movie have the right to do whatever they want. However, do you think this is really a good move for FOX’s already hated image. I mean, they look like the big mean parent snatching the cookie out of the hands of the hungry kid. I am that hungry kid and I would love to see this movie, but FOX seems to have other ideas. I think this could be something remembered for some time. I don’t see why FOX doesn’t just allow the movie to come out, and they get all the money, seems like a bit of a compromise to me. Do you think that would really hurt FOX?

  5. John says:

    Hey Kevin,

    You said:

    “do you think this is really a good move for FOX’s already hated image”

    Since when does trying to protect what is yours “bad” for your image? Besides, no matter how good or bad Fox’s image is, if they put out a movie that people want to see… no one will not go because it’s a “Fox” movie.

    You also said:

    “I don’t see why FOX doesn’t just allow the movie to come out, and they get all the money, seems like a bit of a compromise to me.”

    Trust me… if WB was willing to do that, Fox would let them open the movie in a heartbeat or faster. The reason Fox is trying to stop the release is because they can’t get a deal done with WB. They want a compromise, but the two of them can’t seem to come to one.

  6. Slushie Man says:

    Isn’t this the exact same guy that used to work for Fox but left and went to WB and is kind of the entire reason all this is going on, because he took Watchmen with him without checking with Fox? I’d say his ‘view’ is kind of one-sided in that regard. Plus there’s stuff he says in there that we know for a FACT is false, such as Fox not really owning the original rights, but HE does, and Fox never accepted the rights for the movie from HIM. Yeah. that’s false, buddy. Get off your high horse.

    It seems more like a publicity stunt to further keep fanboys hating on Fox then anything, which is just a low move by WB, IMO.

  7. AARON says:

    Seriously, I hate Fox, HATE EM, I love WB, but WB are being idiots about this. Look, I know they made it, but I just want em to fork their money over to Fox so we can get our movie already!

  8. Jeremy says:

    “As I’ve mentioned a few times over the last few weeks… in this overly litigation happy culture, taking something or someone to court should be your last resort. Fox did in fact communicate with WB a long time ago and had been trying to get WB to work something out. Only after they felt they no longer had any choice they launched litigation… which is the proper thing to do.”

    Last resort I understand. Last resort in this case which appears to be waiting until WB invested 100+ million dollars and had a finished product in the can seems a little past the point of “Last resort”. Now it just looks like Fox is trying to cash out on something they had no part in making. “Last resort” should of been at the point when they saw that WB was going through with their plans and started filming. They had the time or attempted to negotiate prior to and all the way through pre-production. Sure WB would have already invested quite a bit of time and money, but at least they could of cut their losses had this lawsuit been brought up when they were getting ready to start filming. An injunction to stop filming would have been just as effective. There is a point where “last resort” becomes something else. At this point they should just be suing WB for money. Releasing the movie on time could only be beneficial to Fox as it would show what kinda money it makes and how much more they could demand from WB for infringing on their rights.

    I could just be biased though, I really do want to see this movie.

  9. John says:

    Hey Jeremy,

    I see where you’re coming from, but I just can’t agree with your logic here.

    In essence, you’re saying the onus wasn’t on WB to stop, even though Fox had communicated with them about the issue and even though they knew it would eventually lead to litigation if they didn’t deal with Fox.

    WB knew exactly what would happen here (unless they’re totally brain dead) and they were just trying to play chicken with Fox. Well… Fox didn’t blink or back down.

    There is no scenario here where the onus and fault doesn’t lay with WB. None.

    If a kid steals a cookie and the parent tells them not to do it again or there will be consequences… and the kid steals another cookie, he can’t look at his mom in the face and say “You can’t spank me now, because really this is your fault mom for not spanking me earlier”. Mom will giggle for a second at the cute naivety of the ignorant child… and then proceed to whoop his ass

  10. Jeremy says:

    Oh, I was not trying to say it was not WB’s fault. I am just saying that Fox had ample time to stop filming through the courts prior to WB having a finished product. That a finished product is beyond the time that the “last resort” you were talking about should have taken place. Waiting to do said “last resort” until after they had a finished product is similar to a cop catching somebody speeding on the freeway then following to see how many other laws they can catch them breaking just to up the money they can get out of the person. At this point it just seems that Fox wants to capitalize on the movie as well (which they have the rights to do). In all actuality, though, it is kinda shady at the same time because they at this point they are doing it just for the money, rather than because they are protecting their rights. The money is the only reason to wait so long. If they were doing it to protect their rights, they would have got a court to stop WB from filming after they saw the negotiations fail before filming started. Yes they have all the rights in the world to do this, and yes it is WB’s fault for it occurring in the first place. But the almighty dollar speaks, and Fox chose to wait for a final product to bring in the courts to maximize money rather under the guise of protecting their interests.

  11. The Dude says:

    I appreciate Levin’s passion about his movie, but it seems to me that he didn’t quite understand the legalities of the situation before hand. If he knew that Fox owned the rights to the property then why would he or WB proceed to make the movie. They can’t be that stupid can they?

    I agree with you John, at least from what I can see. WB should have secured the rights to it. But what if they thought they did already? What exactly is Fox’s claim here? From what I understand the Judge is having a hard time sorting out who has the rights to what. If it was as simple as Fox having the full rights to the property then it should be an easy decision.

    I think that the issue is more complex than what some people think. There must be other things at play here, such as ambiguous wording of a contract or verbal agreements that people are backing out of etc. I’m surprised though that with the potential huge profit at stake here that they can’t work something before people just lose interest in the movie.

  12. John says:

    Hey “The Dude”

    Don’t forget, the judge is not trying to determine who owns rights at the moment. He already ruled 2 weeks ago that Fox did indeed own (all or part) of the rights to the film. That part has already been established.

    Right now the issue is, since Fox owns rights, can WB proceed to release the movie without a deal with Fox in place.

  13. John says:

    Hey Jeremy,

    Once again, I see what you’re saying, but it has never been Fox’s goal to stop Watchmen from being released. Their goal is to get a deal with WB, and at this point there is no deal. Their only option left is to prevent WB from releasing the movie until a deal is made. WB just won’t budge.

  14. Darren J Seeley says:

    In this letter, I could not help but note Levin mentioning “e-mails” and “studio notes” stating that Fox passed on the film? I have but one question to ask: were any of them kept? I’m not questioning Levin’s letter like the ususal herd mentality on this site, but if nothing else, I think at least one of those memos should be but in the lamp light.

    You may noted I said “herd mentality”. That’s not an error. I slightly disagree with you here John, at least on the part of calling the producer “bias”. Even by your own admission, it doesn’t make him a bad guy or anything, but it does sound more negative that it should.

    He’s only giving his side of the story, and it is true the film languished in development hell for a long time. I don’t know if the director he refers to is Terry Gilliam (who, despite liking some of his films, I would pause at calling him “an A list director”, so it might be someone else) when Watchmen had Joel Silver behind it with the Sam Hamm drafts.

    How is WB being “idiots” about this? Didn’t they just leave it up to the judge? Also, “fork over the money”…? Fox didn’t put money into this, they did. If anything, Fox should share some of the distribution/marketing burden and nothing more.

    Again, I say, produce those memos and rejection letters. At least one. If Fox passing on this is documented and those document (s) are filed away somewhere, bring them forward. I think that’s fair. I think that’s wise.

  15. The Dude says:

    So we don’t know which part or to what extent of the rights that is owned by Fox. Again, I think it probably comes down to ambiguous wording or a misunderstanding of the contract. I find it hard to believe that the WB would move forward without the rights. They must have thought that they did in fact own the rights. Somebody obviously messed up.

    If we go by what’s fair, I think that given Fox’s complete disinterest in making the movie, the majority of the profits should go to WB. But all that matters is what’s legal so we’ll have to wait and see.

    I think that the judge should allow the movie to be released with a condition that the studios can reach an agreement before the release date.

  16. John says:

    Hey Daren,

    I’m really not sure what your point is here.

    Why should he produce those notes showing Fox rejected the notion of making the film??? That’s not in dispute here whatsoever.

    And you may not like the use of the word “biased”, but it is 100%, by definition and in every way, shape and form and actuate use of the word in this situation. Levin does in fact have a vested material interest in the outcome of this situation, and is therefore, by definition, biased.

    What other definition would you give it?

  17. John says:

    Hey The Dude,

    You said:

    “I think that the judge should allow the movie to be released with a condition that the studios can reach an agreement before the release date.”

    I think Fox would agree. As a matter of fact that’s exactly what they’re trying to make happen. Sadly, the two sides can’t get together on it… so it’s not getting resolved. To bad for us.

  18. Jeremy says:

    “Their goal is to get a deal with WB, and at this point there is no deal. Their only option left is to prevent WB from releasing the movie until a deal is made. WB just won’t budge.”

    I guess this is something I do not fully understand. What is the point in owning the rights to something if your going to let somebody else make it without your permission? If you want it made, then stop the others from making it and make it yourself. If you have no intentions of making it, then why are you holding onto the rights? Just to sit on the rights in hopes that this situation would eventually evolve so you can let somebody else put all the effort and money into making it and then you cash out on it? I don’t know, I guess there is still a lot in business I do not understand. I understand the need for protecting rights, but at the same time do not know how to answer the questions here.

  19. John says:

    Hey Jeremy,

    I guess think of it as a car. I own a car that I NEVER use… and don’t really plan on driving anytime soon. You want it. You want to drive it. I’ve got no real objection, but you’ll have to pay me for it. As the day gets closer and closer for you to take the car on a long road trip, we still don’t have a deal, and you still haven’t given me any money. I keep hounding you about it, but you just brush me off.

    Finally, the day before you’re supposed to leave on your big long road trip in my car, I get the cops to stop you, because you still haven’t given me any compensation even though I’ve given you worlds of time to do so.

    Why Fox didn’t want to make the movie, or why WB thought they had the rights free and clear and why Fox did nothing with the rights for so long are all good questions… but in this situation are totally irrelevant.

    Fox does own rights, and are therefore owed something. WB dropped the ball, and now the two sides can’t seem to come to a deal before the release date… so Fox is just exercising their legal right to try to stop the release until such time that a deal is made.

    WB should have taken care of this a LONG time ago.

  20. Darren J Seeley says:

    Hey John

    I always held the belief that if a studio passes on making a film, putting the film/project/script in turnaround, that should free other parties into making that project with another studio. If Fox had no interest in ‘Watchmen’ as a film (at least in the way the producers wanted it-closer to the source material, according to Levin) then it could be thought that all rights to Watchmen as a film reverted back to the current producers (being here Levin and Gordon).

    I understand your definition of bias. But I would say ‘defense of’ -because well, look at the comments. I think it is reasonable for someone connected to the production to respond to the controversy, the backlash (”WB is so stupid!”) and I think if at least one of those memos can be shown, we can understand why WB moved on with Watchmen.

    I also hold the belief that Fox and WB should form (or should have formed) a limited partnership. I don’t point the finger at Fox anymore than I do at WB. I think it was miscommunication.

    If Fox gets all rights and film is given to them, do I think they would shelve it? (I’m addressing this because Levin suggests nobody would be paid, I think he means percent gross, residuals and the like) if Fox released the film be it March or next October whatever, and the film makes profit, how does it hurt Levin and those others with such residuals and percentage contracts?

    Should WB give Fox the entire film? I don’t think so. If Levin is correct, it isn’t the version Fox wanted. (Or after a change of heart…is it?) I also think it sets a very slippery slope in that, should the Judge grant Fox all rights, that it could lead other studios to challenge other studios on films/scripts they passed on years before.
    What a mess that would be.

  21. Jeremy says:

    The problem with the car analogy is that if you have not paid, why would I give you the keys to the car to drive it? Just as why did Fox allow WB to make the movie if they did not pay Fox first for the keys? I agree though, as stated before, WB is fully at fault for this cause they just skipped over the keys and hot wired the damn car. However, I still do not get why Fox would not have done everything possible to stop the movie from being driven off their lot. Vrrooommmm. Good analogy, though.

  22. HeyShenanigans says:

    I’m not so much mad at Fox as I am at WB for marketing this movie like they have. Even when the lawsuit came up, they kept pushing the film anyway. Way to inevitably let down the fans…… But since when did they ever care about the fans?

  23. Jeremy says:

    @ HeyShenanigans

    I think it goes without saying that studios have always and will always be about the money, not the audience. They invested millions of dollars into the making of the movie, they kinda had to invest in marketing in hopes to make that money back. Fox is going to get paid no matter what, but for WB to not market it would just hurt them even more. Fox gets paid, and WB is hoping that through marketing they will get enough of an audience to still come out on top a little bit. If nothing else, to limit the losses.

  24. Sonya_Rogers says:

    The fact of the matter is Fox could have gotten a court injunction to stop the filming of Watchmen. In waiting for WB to complete the picture Fox is clearly trying to profit from a film they had no part in creating. I really think that WB and Fox will reach a deal. I cannot imagine this movie not being released. I agree with John in that this is entirely WB’s fault for not making sure everything was in perfect order before proceeding. However, I find Fox’s attempt to cash in on a movie they have no interest in despicable and I truly hope the judge will simply rule that WB and Fox split profits from the films release. Perhaps this movie will end-up being jointly distributed?

  25. junal says:

    I don’t dispute Fox owning the rights to the property and all that noise. The issue that I have is that they waited. They waited to see what the finished product looked like, they waited to see what type of buzz was generated. If they really cared about their rights to the film, i would think that they would have acted sooner. But because the film came out looking as good as it does (or as good as the trailers and clips show) Fox has stepped in to claim what is theirs. Doing it this way just sounds like a money grab and nothing more. I would like to know why they waited so long, or if they did move on this when WB announced they were making the film, and the legal process just happened to take this long to get to this point.

  26. Cinema Phreak says:

    I like the house analogy used earlier. Lets say a Architect brought an individual named “Mr Fox” his idea for a house to be built. They develop the idea for a while and Mr fox looses interest so said architect Develops the plans some more forms it’s structure a little better develops it over a period of time and then offers said plans to Mr. Fox and a new perspective client called “MR Warner”. MR Fox still thinks idea stinks and passes on the development and Mr Warner Likes it and decides to take a chance and backs the project. Now project takes flight and a contractor is hired and workers are hired Mr Fox takes an interest finally ist’t it at this point Mr fox says hey I have an interest here I have these rights no Mr fox hangs out to see what develops. Mr Fox waits till house is completely and realizes oh shit I could have made this house It’s amazing well I think now that it’s built I’ll try to stop it being sold. Basically I think that early on Fox and warner brothers were both offered and fox had the chance to shit or get off the pot, fox chose to get off the pot so warner brothers proceeded to take their shit. I’d offer fox 25% of everything to shut their ass up, their involvement in the situation has been to a minimum they helped in early stages but they didn’t put the bulk of the work into it. Thats my 2 cents .

  27. John says:

    Hey Sonya Roger (aka Ransom Betty) and Cinema Phreak (great handle by the way),

    You’re missing a very important point. FOX DID NOT JUST SIT AROUND AND DO NOTHING WHILE WB MADE WATCHMEN.

    Fox tried for a very long time to get WB to deal with the situation and WB kept brushing them off. It wasn’t until there was no other choice that Fox acted.

    No way around this… as much as it pains me to say it… Fox acted completely properly in this situation.

    Now if they can only make a deal.

  28. sean dailey says:

    does fox spend ad money or your site or something, john? i think your usage of the term “biased” is an unnecessary smear against levin in an attempt to discredit him. of course he’s biased, the film he spent decades working on is in danger and he’s expressing his opinion. but the term “biased,” for better or worse, has a negative connotation, which i’m sure you’re aware of, seeing as you tried to deflect criticism in your post.

  29. Sonya_Rogers says:

    Again John Fox could have gotten a court injunction to STOP the filming before it got made. If WB was “ignoring” them why didn’t Fox proceed prior to the completion of the film?

  30. John says:

    Hey Sean,

    Anyone who has read The Movie Blog for ANY length of time knows I have no love for Fox at all. I’ve written several posts over the years specifically to bash them and they once had one of my reviews pulled off Youtube just because I gave their sucky movie a negative review.

    But fair is fair. Fox is right in this situation. It’s just the way it is, and I believe that anyone who looks at all the facts from an objective point of has to agree. Just my opinion.

    And yes… the word “Bias” does have a negative connotation. But the word was used in my post 100% accurately to the definition. And I specifically went out of my way to explain that my use of the word was not meant negatively… just as a matter of FACT.

  31. Cinema Phreak says:

    Well then fox once they realized WB wasn’t going to deal should have asked for a court date 2 years ago, i mean it’s not hard to get your case heard it seams that they sat on it for a while why would they have possibly waited all this time, I mean it all comes to a head months before release, that isn’t just a coincidence if you ask me. and rights or no rights it’s the fans that are ultimately gonna suffer. I still think if it come down to shelving it that if I were the creative team behind it I would find a way to Leak a HD copy to the internet community, watch it explode on the net for free and have both studio go oh well damn if we had just made an agreement maybe this wouldn’t have happened to us. That way the fans don’t suffer the 2 money hungry companies loose what matters the most to them Money…

  32. Rob D. says:

    Seems to me, by using another kid analogy. Fox is like a kid who has a toy. He doesn’t use this toy. He doesn’t like this toy. He doesn’t even want this toy. It just sits in the corner collecting dust. A friend comes over and see’s it sitting there. Tells the kid he really likes it and asks to have it. The kid being a selfish tool snatches the toy and tell his friend, No, This is my favorite toy in the world.

    Yes, The toy belongs to this selfish kid. However if his friend is going to enjoy it and use it. Why not just let him have it? Right?

    Ok ok that’s not an exact analogy. Because is more like his friend took the toy anyway and the kid see’s him playing with it and snatches it back and then says “This is my favorite toy in the whole world.”

    However Fox is being selfish. They didn’t want the Watchmen till they saw someone else playing with it. Now they see how cool it really is. They want it back. While the law maybe on their side. WB still deserves the credit and most of the profit.

    If this was a just world and if I were King. I’d say After WB makes back what they put into the movie. All the profits should be cut 70/30. Maybe 60/40. In the favor of WB. Fox should just be happy with that. Even though they own the rights to the Watchmen. They did not make this movie what it is. They didn’t spend their money into making it. The movie itself belongs to WB. All Fox owns is the name.

  33. John says:

    Hey Cinema Phreak,

    I have to respectfully disagree with you here. Basically what you’re saying is… since Fox only asked WB to make a deal with them and didn’t FORCE them to stop… that somehow this is now Fox’s fault?

    Fox acted totally properly. It’s their right. They tried to get WB to make a deal and to work something out, and WB just kept brushing them off and tried to play chicken with them hoping Fox would blink first.

    To be honest… people saying “Fox should have forced them to stop earlier” sounds to me like grasping at straws intentionally trying to find some way this could be Fox’s fault. It’s just not.

    If Fox sat silent for 2 years and never let on to WB that there were issues and then just SUDDENLY sprang this on them now… then that would be underhanded (but still legal). But that’s not what happened.

    Fox did notify WB. Fox has been trying to get WB to deal. Fox has been trying to keep this out of the courts like civilized and rational people do. WB brushed them off until it got so close to the release date Fox had no choice but to act.

    Fox is right. It hurts my ass to say those words… but it’s true.

  34. John says:

    Hey Rob D.

    WB is being selfish. All business is by nature “selfish”. If WB would just agree to split up the revenue, all this would be behind us… but they don’t want to do that.

  35. david says:

    another car analogy problem - the road tripper hasn’t been planning a trip, he’s had the car in his garage and has been working on it for the past two years.

    i have to believe that WB’s legal department isn’t full of complete morons. they must have gone through some sort of legal process and believed that they had the rights to make the movie. it definitely appears they were wrong. but i think we could change your analogy to fit this.

    there’s a guy peddling around a car. it’s nice, but it looks like it’ll take a lot of money to get it up and running. he goes all over, talks to a lot of buyers. this one guy buys it, but parks it in his garage. the car peddler’s not thrilled, so he shops it around more. this other guy says ‘yeah, i want to fix that thing up.’ the peddler is amped, but tells the guy, ’sounds good, by the way, this other guy has it in his garage.’ ‘no problem, i’ve got people who will work that out.’

    his people work it out, and the guy and the peddler spend two years working on the car. five months in, the other guy who owned it comes over and says ‘wtf, i own this thing.’ and they reply ’stfu, my people talked to your people, go check it out.’

    he spends a month figuring out that their people screwed up. he goes and tell the peddler and the guy working on the car. they go ‘aww crap. i’m totally firing my people. umm… we’ll give you what you paid for the car initially.’ to which the original (and current) owner says ‘hell no, everyone on the internet is talking about how awesome this car is going to be. give me a X amount of money.’ to which they reply ’screw you, dude,’ and he says ‘well, i’ll see you in court.’

    i think what makes a lot of people disagree with you, john, is that when you say it’s WB’s fault, sometimes you seem a little upset with them for not figuring this out ahead of time. you’re right - they should have. but it seems very possible that it was an honest mistake, not underhanded scheming. and just because FOX is legally and technically right, doesn’t mean they’re not acting like a huge dick by not settling for what the guys who’ve worked their asses off think is a reasonable sum. hell, i’d be in it for the money, too. but i like to think i wouldn’t be such a dick about it.

  36. Sonya_Rogers says:

    I agree about splitting the revenue is the only viable option and the right thing to do for business.

  37. Jeremy says:

    Does anybody else find it amusing when when people say that ultimately it is the fans that will suffer? Sure they suffer in the fact they might be delayed seeing the movie. But ultimately WB will be the ones to suffer as they lose out on millions of dollars. Granted they brought it on themselves, but to say the audience suffers is kinda funny. Sure I am excited to see this movie, but I am not going to suffer at all if I have to wait a little longer to do so. I am sure I will find another movie to watch or something else to do until then.

  38. John says:

    Hey David.

    You said:

    “FOX is legally and technically right, doesn’t mean they’re not acting like a huge dick by not settling for what the guys who’ve worked their asses off think is a reasonable sum.”

    That’s EXACTLY what Fox has been trying to get WB to do. WB refuses to deal, and so Fox has no choice but to try to force the movie from being released to FORCE WB to make a deal

  39. Jeremy says:

    John, you had mentioned the following:

    “people saying ‘Fox should have forced them to stop earlier’ sounds to me like grasping at straws intentionally trying to find some way this could be Fox’s fault. It’s just not.”

    You are right in that no matter what it is the WB’s fault, but out of curiosity how would you justify allowing a company to complete a project owned by you without your permission when you could have stopped it before it was made? Figuring in that a deal was attempted to be arranged a year plus in advance before shooting even started, this is an assuming that they started working on a deal when WB decided they would accept the project.

    And no, I am not trying to find any fault with Fox’s actions, just pointing out that they may have had some ulterior motives behind waiting until the movie was completed to take it to court.

  40. John says:

    Hey Jeremy,

    There is nothing that suggest ulterior motives here. That’s all just specualtion. Fox DID contact WB. Fox DID warn WB and Fox properly waited until there was no other choice to take legal action.

    And finally… it looks like it worked. Fox may have just forced WB to make a deal:


  41. Seth Rex says:

    25/75 sounds right. WB gets 75 and Fox gets 25. Fox may own distribution rights *(as that’s apparently the agreement the judge came to), but WB still made it, has their sweat and blood mixed in with it. You don’t use it, you loose it. Sorry but fair is fair. Fox put it in turn around, it’s no longer theirs.

    Oh and John, fair being fair, you say you know Fox is telling the truth about the calls…well I’m calling you out on that. Proove it.

  42. John says:

    Hey Seth Rex,

    Prove it? I can’t. All I can do is tell you I know for a fact that there was communication and that emails were shown to me. I can’t say anything else beyond that.

    It’s totally your choice to believe or not believe me. Although I’m not sure why I’d lie to defend a company I hate to much.

  43. Frank says:

    John, but how come we never heard about Fox’s complaints while the movie was still in development over at WB. I mean, why are we hearing about this now that the movie is finished and scheduled to be release fairly soon. I’m only skeptical because, well, is fucking Hollywood. It’s the gossip capital of the world (Is it? I don’t fucking know), so I find it curious that this news was not made public a lot sooner with all the financial implications and legal matters surrounding the case being as great as they appear. I’m just saying that it’s hard to believe that Fox deliberately decided to be discrete with everything with the circumstances being what they are now. Had they made their concerns public earlier than I would not seeing them as a bunch of money grubbing scumbags.

  44. John says:

    Hey Frank,

    99% of the stuff that goes on in and between studios never becomes public knowledge.

  45. Jeremy says:

    OK, your post that follows this Watchmen post lists that the lawsuit was submitted in February of last year. I retract most of my argument. Looking at the release date, I am assuming they were in the middle of production or just about to start production. This is what I thought a good time to initiate the lawsuit. Figuring that schedule would provide them ample time to film what they needed to, start post-production, and have the footage available that they did at ComiCon. Finally plenty of time to have the movie in the can. It is amazing it took nearly a year for this lawsuit to really hit the spotlight.

  46. Mykrantz says:

    Just out of curiosity, when they make a deal, if Watchman actually loses money, does Fox have to pay WB money?

    PS - David’s analogy is about the best I have heard on this scenario.

  47. Kryptonite says:

    Sorry, John, but Fox’ “attempts” to contact WB and resolve the situation had only one purpose: to set up a proper trail for the judge to follow if/when WB actually finished making the film, so Fox could swoop in with a lawsuit a few months before release to cash in on the work of others. If Fox has REALLY wanted to handle this properly, they would have filed an injunction seeking a cease-and-desist order against WB to halt production until ownership rights could be decided in court. Waiting until production was finished before filing suit is clearly part of a money grab, and I cannot conceive why someone with your intelligence and background refuses to see this. Two other short thoughts for you to chew on:

    1. LEGAL and RIGHT are 2 distinct concepts, and:

    2. WB was stupid here, but Fox was devious, manipulative and maybe even evil. I’ll take ’stupid’ over ‘evil’ any day.

  48. John says:

    Hey Kryptonite,

    And what do you base that on? Oh right… nothing.

    Fox launched the lawsuit a YEAR ago. All your speculation is just that… baseless, factless, imaginary speculation.

    The facts are, Fox owns the rights. The court upheld that. Fox communicated with WB for a LONG time trying to resolve the issue. WB brushed them off. Fox launched a lawsuit a year ago to enforce their rights.

    So in light of all the FACTS… would you like to change your statement?

    Dude, I totally respect your right to have an opinion… but your comment was just making up fiction.

  49. duck says:

    I think most people agree that Fox is in the right here. But the hang up now is how much they get for this mistake on WB’s part.

    I think most reasonable people will agree that giving Fox 100% of the films gain is out of the window, and give Fox nothing is also not correct. So how much should Fox get? 50%? 25% They have done nothing in making and promoting this film, so is 50% too much?

    I assure you that the lawyers from Fox will try to get as much as possible, and WB’s blood suckers will give least possible. This is where the film is being held up. I think I speak for at least some of us when i suspect the the lawyers are not asking for “reasonable” amounts.

    just my two cents

  50. HAZMAT says:

    This is stupid and pointless. Theres no way in hell WB is going to win. Why would they even make the movie if its not theirs??? i completely agree with “THE DUDES” comment:

    “If he knew that Fox owned the rights to the property then why would he or WB proceed to make the movie. They can’t be that stupid can they?”

    This Llyoid person is completely 100% BLIND. How can he write such a letter and think fans wouldnt laugh at him? He basically goes on and basically says:

    “Well, FOX wasnt using it and wasnt letting anyone use it, and we spend so much time and money and we labored so much that it is now rightfully ours”


    What this gentlemans implying is that if John has a LEGO set but doesnt use it, but doesnt want to give it away either, its automatically mine if i make a huge castle out of the LEGO set;

    “But John, I spent so much time makign this, and you werent using it, It took me so much time, money and effort, its mine now John cant you see?”

    “What are you doing in my garage?”

    Hes making no sence. FOX is NOT (i repeat NOT) to blame for this. They didnt want to make a movie because it was THEIR opinion that it wouldnt make money, so be it. But that doesnt mean YOU can steal it and make a movie out of it.

    Ill make another “LEGO” like example for 3 year olds to comprehend;

    If i paid 10 bucks for a car and i dont like it, so i never use it. Fine, Im crazy and i make no sence, but that doesnt mean someone can come in and take it just because im being an idiot, the papers SAY its mine and i can do whatever the hell i want with it. FOX owns watchmen, if they werent using it it means they thought theyd lose more money then they thought theyd lose more money then it would take to make it so obviously, they passed on the idea. But they cant just let their #1 competition grab it and say “well we have a 150 page script and the 300 director and were abotu to make the best superhero movie ever, just stand there while we do it under your nose”

    If FOX didnt do this theyd be LITTERALY taking it up the ass

    I 300% agree with FOX
    But i wish WB wins because i hate FOX and love WATCHMEN

  51. HAZMAT says:

    John i dont know how you felt as you read this letter, but i would be offended by the stupidity displayed on it. Why did we get such an incompetent bunch to do watchmen? what have we DONE to deserve this?? Rereading this letter to see if i find more sense in it just horrifies me by the fact that a human being would call the point his trying to make “reasonable” and strong enough to convince species smarter and more advanced then seamonkeys

  52. HAZMAT says:

    Im sorry for the 3rd straight comemnt but, DAMNIT WB, what the fuck were you thinking? This is the kind of mistake someone makes while playing monopoly but not in the real world, it happens but not THIS BIG

    A movie company using a copyrighted book to make a 100 million dollar movie and have “You werent using it” as the primary excuse??” To keep the other movie company that owns it from suing??

    Whoever the judge is for this case must be laughing his ass off at home right now.

  53. Chris says:

    Hey John, I’ve been reading through most of the comments and I feel that you should save your breath. Many of the commenters clearly don’t understand what your saying. I believe you explained your point very clearly and I agree with you. WB should have settled with Fox long before it reached the courts.

    Also, I do kind of feel sorry for Lloyd. If he really was trying to make the movie for this long and finally when it was to be released it got held up it would kind of suck. Not that it doesn’t need to be held up to get a deal done between Fox and WB. I really hope that this gets done soon. Also, is there any word yet on what will happen to the producer that sold WB the rights to the Watchmen?

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