Okay, first things first. I want to formally apologize to FOX. I've unleashed my fair share of "UNFAIR!" despite defending them for the most part. Now it appears that even I was being unfair. Here's an official release from FOX on yesterday's open letter.
"We appreciate Mr. Levin’s passion for this project, but he has neglected basic facts and legal rulings. First, Fox notified Warner Bros of our rights in this project months before production on the film began -- they chose to ignore our rights on this occasion and several times after that and proceeded at their own risk; 2) only after having our rights in the film deliberately ignored by Warner Bros. did we take the action of filing litigation in order to have those rights recognized; and 3) on Judge Feess’ Christmas Eve order, he specifically ruled that WB had been timely notified and that Fox, in fact, had the rights we asserted. There is no question of who is right and who is wrong. That has been decided through the litigation that we had hoped to avoid, and we refer interested parties to the court’s ruling to confirm these statements."
Ooops. That kind of changes everything...no wait. That changes EVERYTHING. So Warners and their producers were notified months before they shot a frame that there was a legal limbo they were stepping into? Hmm. What WAS that legal limbo? THR.com had this to say about the law rumblings:
In the letter, Gordon defends his actions during the negotiations of two key agreements with Fox during the early 1990s and in the course of the litigation. He also lays out several pages of evidence showing his responses to deposition questions. "Mr. Gordon clearly testified that he does not recall any conversations he had with representatives of Fox in or about 1994 relating to 'Watchmen,' " the letter states.
Gordon is referring to a 1994 turnaround agreement signed by Gordon and Fox that allowed him to shop the project. During negotiations for that agreement, Gordon argues that he and apparently his attorneys were unaware of a 1991 quitclaim agreement that granted Fox distribution rights to the film and a share of profits if Gordon made it elsewhere. Feess ruled that Gordon did not fully control "Watchmen" because he failed to reimburse Fox its development costs and to resubmit the project when key creative elements changed. Gordon claims in his letter that during those negotiations, Fox sent his lawyer, Tom Hunter at the firm Bloom Dekom, a chain of title that did not include the 1991 quitclaim.
So let's lay this out. in 1991 Fox and Larry Gordon had an agreement to make the film and dissolved it, allowing Gordon to take the project elsewhere with the caveat that FOX would be paid and have distribution rights if he made it elsewhere. In 1994 they put the film in turnaround, but Gordon did not reimburse the company the money he owed them to repurchase all the rights to making the film. Then, when things moved forward at WB, FOX contacted them and said "ummm....no. You know we have the rights to this, right?" To which WB thumbed their nose at them and made the movie anyway, arguing that they could maneuver through the court system if they needed to. Then FOX sued and no one really noticed. WB kept it quiet.
THEN, after footage was out and a date was set a judge looked at it, found WB to be the bad guy...and bloggers the world over set the internet on fire hoping to burn down FOX. Because clearly, they were the bad guys. Because the movie looks SO GOOD. And making it was SO HARD.
Turns out FOX wasn't being dicks at all. They did EXACTLY what everyone has been saying they should have done from the beginning. They were just cool enough to keep their mouths shut and make us look like the assholes.
And now WB is finally playing ball. Like I said from the beginning. FOX will get a big box of money and we will get WATCHMEN on March 6th. Want more about this story?
Nikki Finke's behind the scenes updates.
Producer Larry Gordon's ill advised letter to the judge.
Yesterday's emotional plea for FOX to back off because the producers daddy is a lawyer.
Wow. Just wow. This mess gets more and more interesting by the day. More updates as they come.