Stop the ‘Watchmen’ Madness!

Come on, Fox, get over yourselves already. You didn’t want it, so just let Watchmen be.

That’s basically what Watchmen producers Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin are saying about the ongoing legal wrangle between Fox and Warner Bros. over the rights to the film.

Gordon sent a letter to Judge Gary Feess blaming Fox and his then-attorneys for the fiasco while Levin lashed out at Fox in an exclusive open letter on The moves come as Feess is set to meet with Fox and WB attorneys today to decide whether or not to move up a Jan. 20 hearing regarding the movie’s release.

On Wednesday, Warner Bros. requested that the Jan. 20 hearing be moved up to as early as Monday because “time is critical.” Barring an injunction, Watchmen is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. on Mar. 6.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, sources say that discussions between both parties have heated up but both studios denied late Thursday that an agreement had been reached. Gordon’s letter to Feess offered his own version of events leading to the court’s Dec. 24 decision that Fox owns distribution rights to the film. Feess had ruled that Gordon, who is not a party to the case, did not secure proper rights to Watchmen from Fox before setting it up at Warner Bros.

The judge also said Gordon had “refused to testify” to key questions during his deposition and, as punishment, would not be allowed to have his voice heard on “any aspect” of the case.

In Gordon’s letter he contends that he has been subjected to “significant public scorn” for his role in the battle and argues that he answered deposition questions “to the best of his knowledge.”

Feess refused to read the letter, calling it an “improper communication” in violation of court rules. Gordon defends his actions during the negotiations of two key agreements with Fox in the letter and lays out several pages of evidence showing his responses to deposition questions.

Meanwhile, in an open letter, Levin shares his perspective on the goings on. The letter is excerpted below:

“No one is more keenly aware of the irony of this dispute than Larry Gordon and I who have been trying to get this movie made for many years. There’s a list of people who have rejected the viability of a movie based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic graphic novel that reads like a who’s who of Hollywood.

“From my point of view, the flashpoint of this dispute, came in late spring of 2005. Both Fox and Warner Brothers were offered the chance to make Watchmen. They were submitted the same package, at the same time. It included a cover letter describing the project and its history, budget information, a screenplay, the graphic novel, and it made mention that a top director was involved.

“And it’s at this point, where the response from both parties could not have been more radically different.

“The response we got from Fox was a flat “pass.” That’s it. An internal Fox email documents that executives there felt the script was one of the most unintelligible pieces of shit they had read in years. Conversely, Warner Brothers called us after having read the script and said they were interested in the movie – yes, they were unsure of the screenplay, and had many questions, but wanted to set a meeting to discuss the project, which they promptly did. Did anyone at Fox ask to meet on the movie? No. Did anyone at Fox express any interest in the movie? No. Express even the slightest interest in the movie? Or the graphic novel? No.

“From there, the executives at Warner Brothers, who weren’t yet completely comfortable with the movie, made a deal to acquire the movie rights and we all started to creatively explore the possibility of making Watchmen.

“Warner Brothers continued to support, both financially and creatively, the development of the movie. And eventually, after over a year of work, they agreed to make the film…

“Now here’s the part that has to be fully appreciated, if for nothing more than providing insight into producing movies in Hollywood: The Watchmen script was way above the norm in length, near 150 pages, meaning the film could clock in at close to 3 hours, the movie would not only be R rated but a hard R – for graphic violence and explicit sex – would feature no stars, and had a budget north of $100M. We also asked Warner Brothers to support an additional 1 to 1.5 hours of content incurring additional cost that would tie in with the movie but only be featured in DVD iterations of the film. Warners supported the whole package and I cannot begin to emphasize how ballsy and unprecedented a move this was on the part of a major Hollywood studio…

“Shouldn’t Warner Brothers be entitled to the spoils – if any — of the risk they took in supporting and making Watchmen? Should Fox have any claim on something they could have had but chose to neither support nor show any interest in? “Does a film studio have the right to stand in the way of an artistic endeavor and determine that it shouldn’t exist? If the project had been sequestered at Fox, if Fox had any say in the matter, Watchmen simply wouldn’t exist today, and there would be no film for Fox to lay claim on. It seems beyond cynical for the studio to claim ownership at this point.

“By his own admission, Judge Feess is faced with an extremely complex legal case, with a contradictory contractual history, making it difficult to ascertain what is legally right. Are there circumstances here that are more meaningful, which shed light on what is ultimately just, to be taken into account when assessing who is right? In this case, what is morally right, beyond the minutiae of decades-old contractual semantics, seems clear cut.

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