For those of you who haven’t been up on cinematic current affairs, there has been a sinister development on the legal front between the jackals at Fox and the scapegoats at Warner Brothers. It’s a squabble which unfortunately has the long and eagerly awaited film adaptation of Watchmen caught in the middle. From what I understand, Fox optioned Watchmen fifteen years ago with the intention of bringing it to film. Obviously the project fell through. Fox brushed it off as a project they deemed to be, and I quote, “an unintelligible piece of %$#@.”
Time passes, and now we find that Warner Brothers has made some daring strides to get Watchmen brought to the big screen. Unfortunately, in the closing months before its release, when the trailers have become some of the most watched trailers on YouTube, and the anticipation is almost unbearable, Twentieth Century Fox wishes to rain on Warner Brother’s parade by claiming copyright infringement on a film that they optioned and never made. What’s worse, the idiot judge ruled in favor of Fox just because they bought rights for a license they had no intention of taking advantage of.
The real victims of this drama, namely the cast and creative team, have been silent until now. Producer Lloyd Levin posted an extremely provocative letter with www.hitfix.com where he holds back no punches:
“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.”
You can read the rest of his letter on Hitfix.
If you listened to our podcast (Episode 23) then you are fully aware of my feelings about this debacle. Personally, I feel the whole reason Fox is pulling this bull now is because Warner Brothers (amongst other studios) had a VERY good box office year, particularly with superhero movies, while Fox only churned out a tired set of flops. It’s a matter of proven record that Fox took a severe hit in the wallet this past summer when all of their offerings failed to take a slice of the summer pie. Now green with envy because of Warner Brothers’ massive success with The Dark Knight, Fox noticed that people were actually paying attention to the movie that they passed up all those years ago. Now, in an almost pathetic and puerile fashion they want something for nothing.
Public outcry against Fox’s action has been quite vocal. Many comic fans vowed to avoid X-Men Origins: Wolverine when it is released a few months after Watchmen‘s intended release date. Well, if Fox doesn’t drop this stupid behavior I may be inclined to join the protesters. Sorry Wolvie, but Watchmen is far more important than you, and we’ve been waiting for a film for way too long. That, and X-Men: The Last Stand sucked. Do you really think we’ll pass up Watchmen for another dose of potential Bryan Singer-less tripe?