Settlement likely in bitter <i>Watchmen</i> dispute [Update]

In what seems like promising news, a federal judge has postponed today's hearing on the status of the Watchmen lawsuit so attorneys for Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox may pursue settlement talks.

Michael Cieply of The New York Times reports that the hearing has been rescheduled for 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Fox filed the lawsuit in February, claiming it owned the movie rights to Watchmen, based on the 1986 DC Comics miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. In December U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess ruled that Fox owns a copyright interest in the movie because of a tangled development history that dates back to the late 1980s.

Earlier this week, attorneys for both studios agreed to allow Feess to determine whether Fox can block Warner Bros.' planned March 6 release of the $130 million film. Today's hearing was for the judge to decide whether he'd rule on Jan. 20 or, as Warner Bros. had requested, on Monday.

Update: Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily has a few more details: "According to court documents, Fox and Warner Bros have conducted the settlement talks since last weekend and made concessions. This is surprising since WB lawyers announced they would continue to fight immediately after Feess announced his intention to rule in favor of Fox for copyight infringement and distribution rights."

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