"Watchmen" producer Lloyd Levin ("Boogie Night," "Hellboy") decided to speak out about the lawsuit between Warner Bros. and Fox that is the big ol’ hurdle to the release of the movie. In an "open letter" on HitFix, Levin has a lot to say about the history of the production, its Hollywood support (or lack thereof) and the current quagmire. Here’s a quick excerpt:
From my point of view, the flashpoint of this dispute, came in late spring of 2005. Both Fox and Warner Brothers were offered the chance to make Watchmen. They were submitted the same package, at the same time. It included a cover letter describing the project and its history, budget information, a screenplay, the graphic novel, and it made mention that a top director was involved.
And it’s at this point, where the response from both parties could not have been more radically different.
The response we got from Fox was a flat "pass." That’s it. An internal Fox email documents that executives there felt the script was one of the most unintelligible pieces of [—-] they had read in years. Conversely, Warner Brothers called us after having read the script and said they were interested in the movie – yes, they were unsure of the screenplay, and had many questions, but wanted to set a meeting to discuss the project, which they promptly did. Did anyone at Fox ask to meet on the movie? No. Did anyone at Fox express any interest in the movie? No. Express even the slightest interest in the movie? Or the graphic novel? No.
Levin goes on to make it pretty clear which side he’s on, and where the blame in this whole thing lies (in his view).
Does a film studio have the right to stand in the way of an artistic endeavor and determine that it shouldn’t exist? If the project had been sequestered at Fox, if Fox had any say in the matter, Watchmen simply wouldn’t exist today, and there would be no film for Fox to lay claim on. It seems beyond cynical for the studio to claim ownership at this point.
It’s his opinion, of course, though it certainly does not put to rest the claims laid out by both studios. Hopefully this is all cleared up soon so viewers aren’t made to suffer a long wait for the film’s release.
– Jevon Phillips
Photo: Billy Crudup as Jon Osterman in "Watchmen." DC Comics/Warner Bros.