Warner Bros. and Fox issue statment on "Watchmen" settlement
"Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox have resolved their dispute regarding the rights to the upcoming motion picture "Watchmen" in a confidential settlement. Warner Bros. acknowledges that Fox acted in good faith in bringing its claims, which were asserted prior to the start of principal photography. Fox acknowledges that Warner Brothers acted in good faith in defending against those claims. Warner Bros. and Fox, like all "Watchmen" fans, look forward with great anticipation to this film's March 6 release in theatres."
This afternoon IESB.net posted a "Notice of Settlement Status and Request for Further Hearing" that Fox and Warner Bros. filed on Jan. 14 regarding the dispute over distribution of the upcoming release. The document outlined that both parties were requesting a hearing to report their settlement to Judge Gary Fees. That hearing occurred today.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but it is believed to involve a cash payment to Fox and a percentage of the film's box office. Fox will not be listed as a co-distributor of the film, nor will it own a piece of the property moving forward.
Deadline Hollywood Daily is disputing the Reporter, saying Fox does retain rights to the movie franchise moving forward, including a sequel or spinoff.
It's unclear whether the exact details of the settlement will be publicly disclosed.
Additionally, the Reporter claims Warner's is planning on pursuing monetary compensation for the settlement from producer Larry Gordon who originated the project at Fox and his attorneys. During the course of the litigation, Gordon's then-attorney admitted that he negotiated Gordon's 1994 separation from Fox without knowing about a pre-existing 1991 agreement on which Fox has based its lawsuit.
Updated: Variety reports the following deal points:
- Warner Bros. gets the right to open the film, but Fox's logo will not be on it.
- Fox will receive an upfront payment between $5-10 million covering reimbursement of $1.4 million in development and legal fees.
More interestingly, it seems both studios discussed a number of proposed settlement scenarios including:
- Fox initially asked for 10% of the gross and rights to distribute in a numer of international markets. WB reportedly scoffed at those terms.
- As incentive, WB considered moving "Terminator Salvation" off of the Memorial Day weekend "Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian also occupies, but that was unworkable with the Sci-Fi thriller's rights owner, Halcyon.
- Steve Carell became a discussion point as Fox wants to pair the tightly scheduled TV and movie star in its new comedy "Date Night" with Tina Fey and begin production this spring. WB could have blocked this because it has the rights to force Carell shoot a "Get Smart" sequel at the same time. The tactic became moot once WB independently decided to move production on "Get Smart 2" to Spring 2010.