1 more voice in Fox film dispute

The most spirited squabbling in the legal fight over the distribution rights for “Watchmen” had been limited to lawyers for 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. But now one of the film’s producers has joined the fray, urging Fox to drop its case and let the film come out as planned.

In a letter first published Thursday on the entertainment news website HitFix, “Watchmen” producer Lloyd Levin said Fox repeatedly passed on making director Zack Snyder’s epic superhero movie and was now trying to take advantage of Warner Bros.’ willingness to develop and produce it.

“Shouldn’t Warner Bros. be entitled to the spoils -- if any -- of the risk they took in supporting and making ‘Watchmen’?” Levin wrote. “Should Fox have any claim on something they could have had but chose to neither support nor show any interest in?”

Fox sued Warner Bros. in February, alleging the studio and “Watchmen” producer Larry Gordon never obtained movie rights from Fox. U.S. District Judge Gary Feess ruled in Fox’s favor Dec. 24, saying that Fox, not Warner Bros., owns a copyright interest in “Watchmen.” Fox, the judge said, controls at the very least the film’s distribution rights.


Warner Bros. was set to release the $130-million film March 6, but Feess will convene a mini-trial in the coming weeks to decide who gets to release the movie.

Fox took issue with Levin’s analysis.

“We appreciate Mr. Levin’s passion for this project, but he has neglected basic facts and legal rulings,” Fox said in a statement, noting that Fox had notified Warner Bros. of its rights, which Fox said Warner Bros. “deliberately ignored,” thus prompting the lawsuit. “There is no question of who is right and who is wrong. That has been decided through the litigation that we had hoped to avoid, and we refer interested parties to the court’s ruling to confirm these statements.”

Levin did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Levin recounts in his letter the film’s long and often troubled path to the screen. He says that Fox dismissed the film’s basic screenplay with an expletive.

“Did anyone at Fox ask to meet on the movie? No,” Levin writes. “Did anyone at Fox express any interest in the movie? No. Express even the slightest interest in the movie? Or the graphic novel? No.”