‘Watchmen’ producer: Blame Fox

Jan. 08, 2009 | 9:50 p.m.


"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

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More in: Uncategorized, Watchmen


12 Responses to ‘Watchmen’ producer: Blame Fox

  1. Rocha says:

    His opinion.
    Of course, but he and L.G. are and were the driving force to get this made, so who's opinion should be respected?
    I know you are trying to be fair and balanced and all that but, who would you trust? The dude who has been trying to get it made for the past 15-20 years or the people who have been trying to sink it for the same period and now have a pretty good chance of doing so?
    This guy makes and has enough money, so why does he care right?
    That is just it. He cares.

  2. max says:

    I'm with Watchmen scribe Alan Moore on this one. I absolutely refuse to see the film (that is if it is released – which I hope doesn't happen). There is no way a film can do justice to the epic story, and furthermore director Zack Snyder is a hack of the highest order! How dare the ad campaign use the phrase "From the visionary director of 300". How is that idiot a visionary? Every film he has made has already been produced in some form or another; Dawn of the Dead – remake (and a very very bad one at that); 300 – a virtual panel for panel visualization of the graphic novel, which was pretty lousy to begin with; and of course, Watchmen – limited series.
    So my point is this – Snyder is not a visionary and the Watchmen film will undoubtedly suck! Here's to Fox burying the damn thing.

  3. comicbookartist says:

    I feel for Mr. Levin and all the artist who worked hard to bring the Watchmen film to fruition. I for one am really looking forward to seeing this movie on the big screen, and I can understand the frustration felt by the creative end of the industry when these legal matters take control.
    However, one thing Mr. Levin is not being fully honest about is the assertion that Fox was flat out "not interested". If that was the case, then Fox would have ditched their copyright ownership years ago. My guess is that wanted a different take on the property than Warner Bros.
    And the thing I find truly mind-boggling is how many fans are showing this knee-jerk reaction in siding with Warner Bros. on this. If I spent over $100 mil. and several years to develop and release my own Aliens Vs. Predator film (because I know that I could do better than Fox has with that property)Fox would definitely sue me for copyright infringement because they own the property rights. There would be no argument in that case, what makes this situation any different?
    Once again I feel for the artists involved, but copyright infringement is copyright infringement, sorry.

  4. WOWC1 says:

    Loyd, Loyd, Loyd — Did Warner Bros. talk you into writing this?

  5. Jose Arribas says:

    Sorry but just because you were more passionate than the copyright owner doesn't mean you can do what you want. Besides, Lloyd made plenty of dough from this copyright theft already so I won't shed even one crocodile tear for him.

  6. Sol Goldfarb says:

    So it sounds as if Levin is suggesting that squatters' rights and total anarchy take the place of our current legal system when it comes to ownership of rights.
    Didn't a judge already rule that Fox now owns the rights after Warners refused to make a deal settlement with them?

  7. Sol Goldfarb says:

    So it sounds as if Levin is suggesting that squatters' rights and total anarchy take the place of our current legal system when it comes to ownership of rights.
    Didn't a judge already rule that Fox now owns the rights after Warners refused to make a deal settlement with them?

  8. Sean K says:

    I read the Watchmen series as a teenager when it first came out and was absolutely floored by it (and no, it wasn't a 'graphic novel'- it was a comic book mini-series that later got collected into novel form by the science fiction book club). With that said, I have serious reservations about the ability to adapt the story into a coherent movie. How are they going recreate the experience of going through Rorshach's psychiatry files? How is the 'John' character not going to come off on film as some kind of Atomic super smurf? A character was raped in the story… certainly a Hollywood movie can't show one superhero raping another. And it was an important part of the story and major part of the character development. How are they going to be able to cut back and forth from the 1930s to the 1960s to the 1980s as often as the story requires? Now after hearing Alan Moore doesn't even want to see it, I'm not sure I do either.

  9. Roy says:

    You need to stop being such a Watchman fanboy. Putting in on a pedestal has runined your perspective. Synder's DOTD remake was praised by most folks, critics AND moviegoers. The same thing can be said for '300'.

  10. Digital says:

    @ Max
    Not to be mean, but what the hell are you talking about? This article is on the ridiculous, and malicious behavior of Fox, not the enormous stick up Moore's butt. Look 300, and Dawn of the Dead will never be considered classic films but it would appear that you wrote them off before even seeing them.
    As for Fox, their actions are nothing short off disgusting. They keep their mouths shut until the film is in post, and then start a legal battle after WB has paid for the film. Fox is really starting to seem determined to self destruct.

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