The battle over Alan Moore's Watchmen rights may finally reach a decision this January. The trades are reporting that both Fox and Warner Brothers are looking to finish this courtroom brawl, once and for all.
The studios have both decided to pass on a jury trial and handle the whole matter with a federal judge who will clearly state whether or not Fox has the rights to block the release of Watchmen on March 6.
Now on January 20th, it's up to U.S. District Court Judge Gary Allen Feess, who earlier ruled that Fox did indeed owns the distribution rights to Watchmen, to decide whether Fox is entitled to a permanent injunction. Which means Fox could block the release of Watchmen, should they so choose. Since we already know that the Judge thinks Fox is entitled to "at the very least" distribution rights, I'm leaning towards the release date getting pushed back.
Although Hollywood Reporter's legal expert warns us not to be too pessimistic.
If the judge blocks the release then it's game over, Fox can demand whatever it wants and Warners will pay (like it did back in 2005 when an injunction was issued against "The Dukesof Hazzard" — by, you guessed it, Judge Gary Feess — and the studio quickly settled for a reported $17.5 million).
But despite the judge having apparently become convinced over the past week that producer Lawrence Gordon failed to do everything required of him to get the "Watchmen" film rights back from Fox in Turnaround, an injunction certainly isn't a given here. Under copyright law, a rightsholder still has to show, among other things, that it will be "irreparably harmed" absent an injunction, and it's hard to see how Fox, which basically sat on its rights as the "Watchmen" project bounced from studio to studio, can't wait until a trial to get whatever money it's entitled to from any infringement.
Fingers crossed everyone, it's been a long road since Comic-Con waiting for this to come out and I don't want to have to wait any longer. At least on January 20th, we'll have some idea where this is all going.