What the heck is it with lawsuits this week? First it's the Tolkien estate attacking New Line, now it's Fox attacking Warner Brothers. If you know me well enough, you probably know exactly what I'm going to say about this before we even begin. Fox filed suit on Friday against Warner Brothers, claiming they have the rights to develop, produce, and distribute a film based on Watchmen. Interesting thing to note: DC Comics, who published (and therefore owns the real rights to) Watchmen, is a subsidiary of Warner Brothers Entertainment and has been since 1969. Oh Fox, let's just admit you've already lost this case.
Fox's lawsuit seeks to "restrain (Warner Bros. Pictures) from taking actions that violate Fox's copyrights and which stand to forever impair Fox's rights to control the distribution and development of this unique work." In essence, this would shut down production on the film. They claim that between 1986 and 1990, they acquired all movie rights to the 12-issue DC Comics series and screenplays by Charles McKeown and Sam Hamm. That's not it though, things aren't that streak-free here.
In 1991, Fox sold some rights to Largo International with the understanding that the studio still held exclusive rights to distribute the first movie based on the graphic novel. Largo shut down sometime around 1994 and the rights were thus transfered to big-name producer Lawrence Gordon. Fox claims that under a separate agreement between Fox and Gordon, he would pay a "buy-out price" to Fox if he was contracted by another studio to develop Watchmen. Fox also claims that they have now not been paid the buy-out amount by either Gordon or Warner Brothers and have not been otherwise involved in the development of the movie, even though they think they should be.
I love it when people squeal and complain when they "had it first" but someone else made it big and successful. Fox, you gave up on this project 17 years ago, back in 1991. I think it's best if you just consider yourself stubborn for giving up the rights and not progressing forward on what could turn out to be an incredible adaptation of the greatest graphic novel ever written. And do I need to mention again the fact that DC Comics is owned by Warner Brothers, which I think just about trumps everything regarding intellectual rights? I'm not a lawyer, but I do think I'm correct here, right?
It really seems like both of these lawsuits are just a matter of some company flipping out because something became big and they gave up on it way back when and now want to be involved. And when something becomes a success, whether financially or publicly, or both, people desperately want to have their involvement back, even if it means taking them to court. This country is sue happy. Remember last year when all those people who were shown in Borat tried to sue Fox for the most ridiculous reasons? Same story there. People are greedy, jealous, and sue happy in this country and it's a sad thing to see. Fortunately Fox is going to get squashed in this case, but nice try.