Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who Watches the Distribution Rights?

After getting me all excited with a kick-ass trailer, now comes news that Fox is attempting to block distribution of the new Watchmen movie:
Fox argues it acquired motion picture rights to the "Watchmen" graphic novel in the last 1980s, and that even though it relinquished certain rights to the material in 1991 it held onto the right to distribute the first movie.

"We will be asking the court to enforce Fox's copyright interests in "The Watchmen" and enjoin the release of the Warner Brothers film and any related 'Watchmen' media that violate our copyright interests in that property," said Fox spokesman Gregg Brilliant.
I'm not going to comment on the legal merits of the claim since (A) I'm not an attorney, and (B) even if I were, it's not like I've ever seen the relevant contracts, etc.

I'm simply going to suggest that if this movie isn't released on time, certain individuals may find themselves dropped down elevator shafts.


Craig Calcaterra said...

I am a lawyer and have no idea how this stuff works. I will say, however, that it is curious indeed that this legal saber rattling didn't rear its ugly head until (a) the trailer went live last month; and (b) everyone and their brother got really excited about the movie.

Coincidence? I think not. If this movie looked like a dud in the making or some major flop bait a la Daredevil or something, do you think for a second that Fox would be claiming distribution rights? No way, because then they'd be on the hook for a lot of money. Now that they can pretty much bet that it will be a hit, they want in on the gravy train.


Christopher D. Heer said...

Actually, it looks like Fox filed the suit back in February; the recent noise seems to be the result of Warners asking for the suit to be dismissed.

But I don't think that changes your principle point; even back then I think buzz was starting to build in the industry.