ENTERTAINMENT LITIGATION: “WATCHMEN” SETTLEMENT UPDATE

SETTLEMENT PROMPTED BY CHRISTMAS EVE RULING

Certain details of the settlement between Fox and Warner Bros. over the “Watchmen” movie have been reported since my post yesterday on the end of the litigation between the studios.

The settlement apparently was prompted by a ruling by the court on December 24 that the film’s producer, Larry Gordon, failed to properly secure the rights from Fox before setting up the project at Warners and that Fox owned the copyright to the property. Since Warners’ rights were based on whatever rights Gordon acquired, the Christmas Eve ruling likely meant that Warners would have been enjoined from releasing “Watchmen” at the permanent injunction hearing scheduled for next week. The ultimate settlement between the parties was therefore inevitable.

FOX REPORTEDLY GETS MONEY FROM, BUT NO RIGHTS IN, THE FILM

The Los Angeles Times reported today that the settlement provides that Fox will receive $1.5 million in cash plus as much as 8.5% of the gross receipts of the Warners film and any sequels and spinoffs. Fox will not be a co-distributor.

The settlement clears the way for Warners’ upcoming release of the pic on March 6.

However, Warners still may pursue Gordon — and his lawyers — for indemnity over the costs of the settlement. So while we will be able to watch this epic story about superheroes as scheduled, the battle over the film itself may not quite be over just yet.