A settlement has been reached in the nearly yearlong dispute between Fox and Warner Bros. over rights to the film adaptation of Watchmen. This means the movie, based on the groundbreaking graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, will open as scheduled March 6.
“Warner Bros. and Fox, like all Watchmen fans, look forward with great anticipation to this film’s March 6 release in theaters,” the statement said.
As part of the agreement, both sides acknowledged the others were acting in “good faith,” although Warner Bros. conceded Fox notified it of its rights before filming began.
Fox’s beef was that when they teamed up with producer Larry Gordon in 1991 to develop a movie based on the groundbreaking 1986 graphic novel, the rights were transferred to them and so they were due payment if the film was ever made.
Things didn’t work out in developing the movie so Fox and Gordon went their separate ways. In 2006, Gordon made a deal with Warner Bros. to make Watchmen and Fox no doubt seethed, coveting what they believed to be theirs.
It was a long game of hardball: Fox had announced that instead of seeking a share of the sure-fire superhero hit it was intent on stopping the movie from being released. Warner held firm for a long time, saying Fox’s case had “no merit.” On Dec. 24 a federal judge in Los Angeles said Fox owns a copyright interest “consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the ‘Watchmen’ motion picture,” according to a ruling quoted in the New York Times. He then urged both sides to keep working on reaching a settlement, with an update due by the end of this week. That hearing was canceled when the two sides appeared to be headed for a deal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.