The Hollywood Reporter is, well, Hollywood reporting that Fox and Warners are close to a settlement on their Watchmen dispute, the most contentious movie-related legal issue in years – with the movie now likely to go ahead and make its March 6 release date.
Regular readers will know that the two studios had been at loggerheads over distribution rights for the movie, with Fox claiming that they had first refusal on the movie when Paramount put it into turnaround back in 2005.
Late last year, a preliminary ruling by a LA federal judge declared that Fox did indeed have a copyright interest giving them the right to distribute a film which is now less than two months away from a much-hyped release, with distributors (WB in the States, Paramount in the UK) already in place.
Needless to say, this could well have jeopardised the release of the movie, depending on Fox’s stance. But the judge recommended that both parties sit down and thrash out a deal before an official trial on January 20 – and it seems that they did just that over the weekend.
No details are forthcoming about what took place during the meetings, which culminated in a 30-minute session in the chambers of Judge Gary Feess. Normally we’d make a hypothetical joke at this point, but we’re scared that we’ll get sued for not being really, really serious.
But the circumstantial evidence – Warners has not pressed to move the January 20 hearing forward; Watchmen TV spots started airing over the weekend, including on the Fox network – would indicate that a settlement is near, and that’s cause for much celebration and, indeed, relief. We’ve been waiting for Zack Snyder's superhero movie for ages now, and it would have been horrible to see the release delayed yet further by red tape.