20th Century Fox has filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. Pictures claiming it holds the exclusive copyrights and contract rights to Alan Moore’s graphic novel “Watchmen”. Warners has been in production on the film version of the acclaimed book for several months with Zack Snyder (“300”) at the helm.
Fox claims that between 1986 and 1990, it acquired all movie rights to the comics and screenplays. In 1991, Fox assigned some rights via a quitclaim to Largo International with the understanding that the studio held exclusive rights to distribute the first motion picture based on the comic according to the lawsuit.
When Largo dismantled, the rights were transferred to producer Lawrence Gordon. Under a “turnaround agreement” between Fox and Gordon, the producer agreed to pay a buy-out price to Fox if he entered into any agreement with another studio or third party to develop or produce Watchmen, among other things.
Fox claims that neither Gordon nor Warner Bros. has paid the buy-out price or advised the studio of any other conditions required under the agreement, including procedures necessary to acquire the rights to Watchmen from Fox.