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.

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Companies: fox, warner bros.

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Comments on “As Expected, Warner Agrees To Fork Over Tons Of Cash To Fox For Watchmen”

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John Doe says:

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.

DanC says:

Re: 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.

Yakko Warner says:

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.

D. Hawe says:

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.

Bobby Boberanna says:


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.

mobiGeek says:


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.

Boby Bobunei says:

Re: 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.

mobiGeek says:

Re: 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’…

PaulT (profile) says:

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…

Lucretious (profile) says:

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…..)

interval says:

Re: 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.

Falkayn says:

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.

Ryan Brosmer (user link) says:

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.

Lonnie E. Holder says:

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).

DanC says:

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.

DanC says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.

DanC says:

Re: Re: Re:5 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Michael says:

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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