Studios will announce Watchmen settlement Friday morning [Update]

by  in Comic News Comment
Studios will announce <i>Watchmen</i> settlement Friday morning [Update]

Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox will announce Friday morning that they have resolved the lawsuit regarding the $130-million Watchmen movie.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studios will present the settlement at 9:30 a.m. (PST) to U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess and request that the case be dismissed.

Although the terms of the agreement won’t be disclosed, the trade paper reports “it is said to involve a sizable cash payment to Fox and a percentage of the film’s box office.”

The studios are expected to release a joint statement on Friday.

Fox filed the lawsuit in February, claiming it still holds the movie rights to the 1986 DC Comics miniseries, which it had acquired in the late ’80s for producer Lawrence Gordon. Although the project passed from studio to studio over the next two decades before finally settling at Warner Bros., Fox asserted Gordon had never obtained the necessary rights from the studio.

Feess agreed, ruling on Dec. 24 that “Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the Watchmen motion picture.”

Attorneys for the two studios began settlement talks five days later, ahead of an expected Jan. 20 decision from Feess on whether Fox could block release of the movie. Negotiations reportedly “got serious” last weekend after the judge postponed a settlement hearing so the studios could meet further.

If everything goes as planned in the morning, Warner Bros. will release Watchmen on March 6.

(Note: Post updated to replace earlier reporting from The Hollywood Reporter’s media-law blog with expanded information from the trade paper.)

Update 2 (8:26 p.m. PST): Details of the agreement — y’know, the one whose terms supposedly won’t be disclosed — already are leaking out.

The New York Times’ Carpetbagger blog reports Fox will get a cut of gross receipts of Watchmen or any sequels or spinoffs — as much as 8.5 percent — which could end up amounting to tens of millions of dollars. The studio also will recoup its development costs and legal fees, which amounts to millions of dollars more.