As Expected, Warner Agrees To Fork Over Tons Of Cash To Fox For Watchmen

from the money-for-nothing dept

It will come as no surprise to anyone that Warner Bros. Studios and Fox have settled over the rights to Watchmen. It was pretty much a forgone conclusion once the court sided with Fox and said that Warner couldn't open the movie without agreeing to pay up. And, indeed, Warner will be paying a chunk of change, plus a percentage of the profits -- all for a movie that Fox had less than nothing to do with. Legally, it may be right, but from a common sense standpoint it makes no sense at all. Fox did everything possible to say that this movie should not be made. And it took none of the risks that Warner took... but now it gets a ton of money for it.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Jobuca, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 11:44am

    "the court sided with Fox and said that Warner couldn't open the movie without agreeing to pay up"

    wait I thought the court never ruled on this. They said that Fox had a legal interest but didn't rule on issuing an injunction to block the movies release, right?

     

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  2.  
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    Geoffrey Kidd (profile), Jan 16th, 2009 @ 11:44am

    Nothing less than just deserts for Warner

    Given the content of one of yesterday's posts on this very blog, are we supposed to shed some tears about the injustice of Fox treating Warner the way Warner treats others? cf: Fark, irony tag

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 11:53am

    That's it, I'm not going to see Watchmen now.

    The movie studios will look up and shout "Save us!"

    And I will whisper back "No."

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    On a positive note, Circuit City is finally boarding up the doors and windows. The sad thing is; people will look back and blame the economy when in truth; their firing of experienced employees and hiring back inexperienced employees at lesser pay is what did them in. I hope the top execs had millions in the now worthless stock.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

    Re:

    35,000 people out of work is "on a positive note"?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    How did it happen?

    How did FOX end up with the interest in Watchmen? Did they pay the creators for rights?

     

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  7.  
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    Bobby Boberanna, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    OF COURSE!

    by Anonymous Coward - Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:08pm
    35,000 people out of work is "on a positive note"?

    Of course, so a few little people get squashed. It is worth it if we can stick it to a rich man or a corporation. Didn't you know that in the United States of Obamma sticking it to the rich is job number one.

     

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  8.  
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    $, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    What about if Watchmen loses money? Does fox have to pay up it's share?

     

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  9.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:17pm

    Has anyone here even read it?

    Though there seem to be some strong opinions, I have yet to hear from anyone who has actually read the book.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re:

    Unfortunately they are collateral damage. But don't blame me, blame the executive management and board of directors.

     

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  11.  
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    Shawn Patrick Green (profile), Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Has anyone here even read it?

    No. 3 read it, hence his (rather clever) quote, from the opening of the book:

    "That's it, I'm not going to see Watchmen now.

    The movie studios will look up and shout "Save us!"

    And I will whisper back "No.""

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Newb, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:28pm

    "... United States of Obamma sticking it to the rich is job number one."


    Last I heard G'Dub is still in Office. Guess next you'll say the state of the economy and bailout were Obama's faults/ ideas.


    Fox has to recoup all the free campaigning for the McCain camp some how...

     

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  13.  
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    :Lobo Santo, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Has anyone here even read it?

    Or, that's also in the trailer... Hmmm.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:42pm

    Re:

    He sure promised an awful lot when that and oil were tapping us out.

     

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  15.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jan 16th, 2009 @ 12:57pm

    I don't care about the monetary stuff so much, I'm just glad the movie's not going to be effectively banned. Not that this would have actually stopped people from seeing the movie, but I'm glad I'll be allowed to see it on the big screen.

    It's also a positive experience in the sense that you can guarantee that Hollywood is now double-checking its procedures, contracts and the way it licences material to avoid this happening again. A studio coming close to losing a $100 million+ investment to a rival is sure to have woken a few people up over there...

     

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  16.  
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    Lucretious, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 1:05pm

    Given the money grubbing bastards at Warner, I'm amazed they went out on a limb and financed the movie to begin with.

    BTW, anyone remember when people were astonished at the original Superman movie which spent a then unheard of sum of 30 million for a budget? (5 million of which went right into the pocket of Marlon Brando BTW.....)

     

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  17.  
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    interval, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 1:11pm

    Re:

    Good point.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    interval, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Has anyone here even read it?

    Yeah, the trailer has a sound bite of Rorschach uttering his infamous line...

     

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  19.  
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    Falkayn, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 1:16pm

    All movie studios are money grubbing maggots. Fox just has the distinction of being the grubbiest. And it seems they almost have to screw up any thing new, different or original they are involved with.

    There is no guarantee that Watchmen will make money. If it stays true to the novel it is going to be disturbing to the general movie-going populace. It makes The Dark Knight seem positively cheerful. And if they move away from the novel then they tick off all the fans.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    interval, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 1:18pm

    Re:

    They I understand it, Warner started out believing they were simply going to make a movie, they didn't realize Fox had, or were going to make a claim, to this film, which was very, very expensive, to make. It was only AFTER the film was all but in the can that Fox came after them. As the film was so damn expensive and almost done, the logical, prudent thing to do, if you are a money grubbing bastard (as both Fox and Warner are) is to see pay off the assholes (Fox), and hope this film isn't a titanic flop. Shutting it down after laying out such an investment will do nothing to make investors happy, which is the number one mission in any privately funded enterprise.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Ryan Brosmer, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 1:27pm

    Warner Bros. should be happy

    They'll probably still end up making more in the end, even with the profit-sharing. This is not a mainstream movie. Despite all of the perceived Internet hype, this is not a movie for the masses. I am a comic book fan, and I've read Watchmen. It's not great and it sounds and looks like the movie is going to be less than great. I don't think the plot is going to be what people are expecting, if they even have any idea what to expect. People are going to be confused and disappointed and Alan Moore will had another spire to his castle.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Boby Bobunei, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

    Re:

    It was in some ways.
    First Gas shot up after the new congress. The dems were in charge of all the crap with house. Gas and Housing were the gas and flame. Then we had a slowing. The dems saw it as an opportunity to win. All the news orgs starting hopping on every news item that made it look worse than it was. That started people pulling out of the market and the lack of credit due to congress not doing its job brought that cards falling down. That allowed Obama to win. In 3.5 years we will start to see a nice little uptake. That will allow him to win number 2. If we do not elect him as dictator for life by then, maybe the bailouts long term effect will be seen. This will then make sure we are in a good old fashioned depression and if Republicans have grown a pair by then they may have a chance. If not hopefully a real party will come to fruition that cares about things like freedom, the constitution and getting us back to were we should be.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    nasch, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 1:33pm

    Re:

    What cost $30,000,000.00 in 1978 would cost $94,376,591.38 in 2007.

    http://www.westegg.com/inflation/infl.cgi

    So in real dollars, it would still be considered a very expensive movie, but not unheard of.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

    Re:

    $3.7 million

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Jeff Rife, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 1:39pm

    Re:

    What do you mean "if Watchmen loses money"? According to the studios, no movie in the past 20 years has made any money.

    At least that's what their accountants claim when it is time to pay out a percentage of the profits to a writer, director, actor, etc.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 2:14pm

    Re:

    The only thing the economy was responsible for was Circuit City's failure to find a buyer after they filed Chapter 11.

    I've been disappointed in our local store ever since it opened a couple of years ago. Poor customer service, nothing priced correctly, and difficult to browse inventory. I only went there when they had extremely cheap deals. And of course I'll go back for their liquidation sales.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Jon B Walsh, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    I've Read It

    @ previous comments I've read it.

    My #1 recommendation: Read it before the movie comes out. I'm really excited for the movie but there's no way it can live up to the novel. Read the novel before the story is 'ruined' for you.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Jim, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 2:34pm

    Re:

    You said it. What's really important is that rights are respected. After all, if everyone had just double-checked their procedures for this movie we wouldn't have had any content at all in this case. That would have been way better, huh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jan 16th, 2009 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Nothing less than just deserts for Warner

    Given the content of one of yesterday's posts on this very blog, are we supposed to shed some tears about the injustice of Fox treating Warner the way Warner treats others? cf: Fark, irony tag

    Warner Music and Warner Bros. studios are two totally separate companies.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Yakko Warner, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 4:01pm

    Re: How did it happen?

    Yes, Fox secured the distribution rights.

    All this whining over Fox getting paid for rights that they OWN is like listening to my four-year-old whining that he doesn't get to play with some other kid's toy, even though that other kid isn't playing with it.

    What isn't RIGHT in this case is that Warner et al started mucking around with something that wasn't THEIRS to play with. Their mistake, and they're paying for it. What would be fair about Fox investing in the distribution rights, and then the producer turning around and going to another studio for production?

    Now, if you want to argue against the concept of being able to "own" distribution rights, that's something else entirely. But the laws being what they are now, even common sense tells me that I wouldn't be able to make my own Harry Potter movie if J.K. Rowling herself asked me to, because someone else has invested money in the distribution rights to do that.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re:

    You are correct, they do lose money, but only on the theatrical release. They make it up on the back end.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2124078/

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 5:32pm

    Just how much was it?

    Mike:

    You said that Warner had to fork over a "ton" of cash and a percentage of royalties for "Watchmen." How do you know? I have been unable to find any kind of terms or numbers for the amount of the settlement, but you state it as a certainty.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 5:50pm

    HA !

    No honor among thieves ?

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 6:38pm

    Re: Just how much was it?

    Per Reuters:

    "Both studios declined to divulge specifics of the agreement in a joint statement late on Thursday."

    Must be nice to have the inside scoop on a document that the two parties have not made publicly available.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 7:27pm

    Re: Re: Just how much was it?

    Is it possible that we have fallen down the slippery slope from criticism and facts to making stuff up? If Mike did not have facts, perhaps it might have been better had he said something like...

    The terms were not disclosed, but we can suspect, based on the lengths that Fox was apparently willing to go, that Warner had to pay a ton of money [I have to wonder how much a "ton" of money is in U.S. dollars], and may have included royalties.

    I guess with the number of posts that Mike puts up per day that it can sometimes be difficult to maintain his own editorial standards (I think that was an example of a criticism based on personal opinion).

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2009 @ 10:48pm

    Did Warner Bros. get the rights to make the Watchmen movie from DC? Did DC sell the copyright of the Watchmen to Fox or just sell them an exclusive licence to make a movie using the work? Can you transfer/sell a copyright of a derivitive work of a work you own even if the derevitive work has yet to be made?

    Shouldn't Fox's beef be with DC for reselling rights they already sold to Fox. Does Warner Bros have a case against DC for selling them rights they already promised to another?

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 12:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Just how much was it?

    Although the exact details of the deal are confidential, the general structure of it is known.

    An upfront payment somewhere in the range of 5-10 million (including legal fees), somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-8.5% of gross revenues, and they also get a cut of revenues for any future spinoffs or sequels. It appears Warner Brothers is retaining sole distributorship of the film.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 12:32am

    Re:

    The judge ruled that Fox had distribution rights to the film, and urged the two parties to reach a settlement rather than let the case go to trial.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 12:35am

    Re:

    Does Warner Bros have a case against DC for selling them rights they already promised to another?

    Since Warner Bros has owned DC Comics since 1969, they'd be suing themselves.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Re: OF COURSE!

    Your dripping sarcasm doesn't allow us to understand if you truly realize that: (a) the rich guys are getting out just fine, they always do, (b) the employees, in the long run, are better off not working for a lame organization, (c) the economy/country will be better off not wasting resources on an organization that truly could not compete.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re:

    So you believe that congress has the power to control the price of gas?

    And you believe that the government is responsible for the crash of the housing market?

    On top of that, you believe that Obama somehow enabled the McCain campaign to completely self-destruct and yet still only lose by a couple of percentage points?

    Just askin'...

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Just how much was it?

    DanC:

    At the end of the article you linked to, the author pointed out that it was "likely" to be an amount greater than another amount mentioned in the article. Appropriate journalism there.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Just how much was it?

    I stand corrected. My comment was without the benefit of realizing that Variety was an active participant in the negotions leading to the confidential settlement.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just how much was it?

    the author pointed out that it was "likely" to be an amount greater than another amount mentioned in the article. Appropriate journalism there

    I may be wrong, but I believe the author simply meant that the combination of the upfront settlement amount and the percentage of gross revenues would wind up costing Warner Bros. more than 17.5 million.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just how much was it?

    And the details of confidential agreements have never ever been leaked to the press by anonymous sources, have they?

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just how much was it?

    You are much too quick to accept as true and accurate that which is known as hearsay.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    alternatives(), Jan 17th, 2009 @ 5:41pm

    if Republicans have grown a pair by then they may have a chance. If not hopefully a real party will come to fruition that cares about things like freedom, the constitution and getting us back to were we should be.

    And this delusional rant of yours has what to do with the Watchman/Warner Bros/Fox?

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 9:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just how much was it?

    You are much too quick to accept as true and accurate that which is known as hearsay.

    I apologize for using the word 'known' instead of 'rumoured' or 'speculated'. I didn't realize how vigorously you were prepared to defend your "no details" comment.

    On the other hand, you're far too dismissive of what was reported. Since the details won't officially be released, we're stuck with what insiders report. And since the speculated terms would net Fox a hefty payday, it doesn't seem that outlandish.

    But hey, at least it gave you material for a few snide comments if nothing else.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2009 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just how much was it?

    Having drafted, negotiated, and executed numerous settlement and licensing contracts, I have yet to see a single release of inside information that accurately reflects the substantive contents of the contract.

    Maybe this hearsay pronouncement has some degree of accuracy as to the money changing hands, but there is much more to a license/settlement contract than just the financials. Each party invariably assumes reciprocal obligations, and without knowing what these obligations entail it is impossible to determine what the financials actually mean in the context of the license/settlement.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jan 19th, 2009 @ 8:04am

    Eh... I side with Fox. The Watchmen is an idea. A world of backstory and characters. Warner could just as easily have tried to be creative and come up with a compelling idea of their own, but they decided to go for the easy money of an established franchise.

    They were lazy. You say they took a risk? I say they decided that the risk was minimal because the underlying foundation the Watchmen provides was more than good enough to warrant the effort.

    Apparently Fox owns something monetizable, and Warner wants in on it without paying their dues.

    Warner was arrogant and got nailed for it.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    D. Hawe, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 5:03am

    Re: Re: How did it happen?

    "Yes, Fox secured the distribution rights.

    All this whining over Fox getting paid for rights that they OWN is like listening to my four-year-old whining that he doesn't get to play with some other kid's toy, even though that other kid isn't playing with it.

    What isn't RIGHT in this case is that Warner et al started mucking around with something that wasn't THEIRS to play with. Their mistake, and they're paying for it. What would be fair about Fox investing in the distribution rights, and then the producer turning around and going to another studio for production?"


    Exactly. The only people that didn't do their job in this case was Warner's lawyers, I suspect they've been shown the door.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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