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Fox looks up and shouts ‘8.5%,’ Warner Bros. whispers ‘OK’

by  in Comic News Comment
Fox looks up and shouts ‘8.5%,’ Warner Bros. whispers ‘OK’

Details are still trickling out about the terms of the settlement that brings to an end the bitter feud between Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox over the Watchmen movie.

The agreement, revealed late Thursday, clears the way for Warner Bros. to distribute its $130-million adaptation of the 1986 DC Comics miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The Zack Snyder-directed movie is set for release on March 6.

Although the details of the settlement won’t be disclosed by the studios, The New York Times’ Carpetbagger blog reported last night that Fox will get a cut of profits from Watchmen and any sequels or spinoffs, and recoup its development costs and legal fees.

Variety now provides more concrete figures: Fox’s gross participation will be on a sliding scale, ranging between 5 percent and 8.5 percent, depending on Watchmen‘s worldwide revenues. The studio reportedly also will receive between $5 million and $10 million upfront to cover the other expenses.

Hollywood-watcher Nikki Finke has some of the behind-the-scenes details, plus the kiss-and-make-nice joint statement from the studios:

“Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox have resolved their dispute regarding the rights to the upcoming motion picture Watchmen in a confidential settlement.  Warner Bros acknowledges that Fox acted in good faith in bringing its claims, which were asserted prior to the start of principal photography.  Fox acknowledges that Warner Bros. acted in good faith in defending against those claims Warner Bros. and Fox, like all Watchmen fans, look forward with great anticipation to this film’s March 6 release in theatres.”

Attorneys will present the settlement at 9:30 a.m. (PST) today to U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess and request that the case be dismissed.

Fox filed the lawsuit in February, claiming it still holds the movie rights to the 1986

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.

Related: Jeff Trexler has additional analysis

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