EDITORIALS

Read This Now: Producer Lloyd Levin's Open Letter About Watchmen

by
January 8, 2009
Source: HitFix

Watchmen

The on-going Watchmen legal battle has nearly reached its pinnacle. In a few more days we'll have a verdict from the judge and will know whether or not Warner Brothers gets to keep its March 6th release. Whatever ends up happening will undoubtedly go down in history and leave fanboys debating forever about who was right or wrong. I'm sad that it has come to a point where the only person that can say something that people respect is someone directly involved with the movie. Drew McWeeny at HitFix has ran an open letter from Lloyd Levin, one of the producers, that addresses this battle in a way only an insider could.

The reason why this letter is so important is because of this: "For once, this isn't just empty speculation from the outside, but the opinion of someone intimately involved in the entire thing." Take a look.

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 shit 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.

After reading that little bit, you should begin to understand why I have so much sheer frustration towards Fox at this point. And if you haven't started to realize how poignant and provocative Levin's letter is, just continue reading. I'm glad this is published. No, I'm exhilarated that this letter was published. Why? Because Levin is saying exactly what I've been trying to say from day one, when this whole battle began!

Warners supported the whole package and I cannot begin to emphasize how ballsy and unprecedented a move this was on the part of a major Hollywood studio. Unheard of. And would another studio in Hollywood, let alone a studio that didn't show one shred of interest in the movie, not one, have taken such a risk? Would they ever have made such a commitment, a commitment to a film that defied all conventional wisdom?

Look at it another way… One reason the movie was made was because Warner Brothers spent the time, effort and money to engage with and develop the project. If Watchmen was at Fox the decision to make the movie would never have been made because there was no interest in moving forward with the project.

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.

Whatever decision Judge Feess makes in the end won't even compare to how important Levin's letter will become. If you are a Watchmen fan, if you care about the entertainment industry, or a supporter of true ethics, then read his letter. There is no way this won't make you angry at Fox. I've been saying it all along and I'll say it once more - if it weren't for Lloyd Levin and Lawrence Gordon, it it weren't for Zack Snyder, if it weren't for Thomas Tull and Herb Gains at Legendary Pictures, if it weren't for everyone who supported this movie, if it weren't for Warner Brothers, Watchmen wouldn't be the movie that it is today.

"For the sake of the artists involved, for the hundreds of people, executives and filmmakers, actors and crew, who invested their time, their money, and dedicated a good portion of their lives in order to bring this extraordinary project to life, the question of what is right is clear and unambiguous - Fox should stand down with its claim."

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  • Andrew
    Right on! At least we now have some legitimate evidence that Fox is full of shit.
  • SillySil
    Well written!
  • nate
    I don't know how the judge could rule fox's favor. They (fox) just realized that when Watchmen was going to be a huge success that they passed on some big money and they will do anything to get their greedy hands on as much as possible. They do not care about the fans they just want to line their pockets with our money. Its sick!
  • Darunia
    Can't believe how FOX has the balls to do this shit, at least after reading that. Seriously the worst studio, from all the occurrences, on Last Stand, on Babylon AD, on how they treat comic book properties, and how they already pissed off Gavin Hood in Wolverin Origins. To hell with these pricks.
  • CLerksFan
    Fox is full of douche-bags
  • Andrew
    I wouldn't be surprised if Fox bribed the judge, or he's associated with Fox in some way.
  • Vegavega Balrog
    Wasn't sold on the HATE-FOX group until just now. Wow do they have some nerve.
  • Nthngmn
    "An internal Fox email documents that executives there felt the script was one of the most unintelligible pieces of shit they had read in years." Unintelligible piece of shit? Really? Well, Fox, let's take a look at a small sample of the Citizen Kane-esque movies you've decided to go with: Bride Wars Marley & Me Aliens vs Predator Requiem 27 Dresses Meet the Spartans Meet Dave Max Payne Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Dragonball Evolution Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel Really?
  • Florian
    Great article, yr totaly right !!! Fu*k Fox!!!
  • Knight Rider
    F*ck FOX. I already told myself I won't see any of there movies after Wolverine just so I dont have to see them fuck up another character/franchise. After the shiteousness that was the Last Stand and their relentlessness to release crap, I hope for some reason they fold and everyone else is left laughing.
  • comicbookartist
    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 they 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.
  • Matt
    How have we not known that Fox was full of shit this whole time? I hate them just as much as the next guy who has brains, but even if Fox does lose this battle, their reputation won't change. Those Fucks will still be lighting their cuban cigars with hundred dollar bills. Every thing about them is pure corruption and greed.
  • Zandhu
    I have in my mind the so many films that FOX fucked up already... Instead, WB was always in the "risk-unconventional-ballsy" business... DC COMICS MARVEL COMICS what else?? THE MATRIX TRILOGY who else can have the balls, cojones, whatever you want to say no one than WB entretaiment?? I just can't believe that someone like FOX, who has a lot of record doing other amazingly movies, wanted to go into the business that is not their ground??... Oh! yeah! MONEY... Like we say in Venezuela: "Por la plata baila el mono" (for money... the monkey dance) Nothing else to say just, hope WB have the strength not to give away from us the oportunity to see this great movie
  • BahHumbug
    #13- Warner Bros. has yet to handle a Marvel Comic.
  • Fuelbot
    #8 Dead on. Think about how much Warner Brothers has supported this film. They argued over length then came to an agreement with Zack Snyder over just how much detail needed to be in this film. People thought Tales From The Black Freighter would be excised and they agreed to include it on the dvd -- hell, they even agreed to an almost four hour cut of the flick on dvd. This movie belongs to Warner Brothers. I'm sorry, but paperwork be damned.
  • Janny
    fox to me has always been a studio more concerned with money than good movies... unfortunately good films don't always lead to money so rather than take the occasional risk fox picks factory produced cookie cutter movies once they saw how the hard work of so many people made the watchmen a sure fire blockbuster they did what any large faceless company is expected to do... rather than perhaps learning from their mistake and maybe reevaluation aspects of their decision process they paid a lot of lawyers a lot of money to get a chunk of what is probably going to be 500million+ boxoffice sucess sure its alienating the fanbase of watchmen followers, sure its a no balls type of move, sure its a knife in the back of all the people that poured their blood, sweat, and tears into the movie, sure it seems too low even for fox... but in the end as long as the bigwigs on top of the corporate ladder at fox can buy another mansion summer home, give each other a 100% raise they will end up content and use this course of action in the future my open letter to fox about what they are doing to the watchmen: To the People who run Fox, Stop doing lines of coke out of a hooker's ass and grow the f*ck up.
  • Richard
    Yeah I was also not sold on the Fox is evil kick until just now. They are a bunch of money hungry bastards. The judge needs to find out how much WB paid to own the rights to this movie, whatever the amount is, 1,000 10,000 100,000 1,000,000 and make WB pay it and get it over with, shit 1 mil for this is prob just a drop in the hat at this point, the movie is going to make so much money in the long run, DVDs etc. I can't in my wildest dreams see the judge doing anymore then that for Fox... but stranger things have happened.
  • Jordan
    @16 You are exactly right, all fox cares about is the money. That is why I propose an all out boycott of Fox for 2009 if Watchmen is delayed at all. They have two major blockbusters coming out in May: Wolverine and Night at the Museum. I want to see both movies, but I am so frustrated with Fox right now I don't want to give them any money. If the Watchmen Fans can organize and commit to a boycott, Fox would have to give in. Because these fans of watchmen are the same fans who will go and see Wolverine come may. If that big chunk of the audience didn't show up the movie would be an outright flop. I know this will never happen, but if Watchmen is delayed I will refuse to watch a single Fox movie in theaters this year. I would even be willing to give up Avatar in December. I just wish movie audiences had the dedication to show Fox what we think of them, but I doubt anyone will give up Wolverine and that is the only movie that will make a big enough impact on Fox for them to even care.
  • Darunia
    @14 Aren't Fantastic Four, X Men, Wolverine, Daredevil, marvel comics!?
  • Darunia
    Oops. Sorry 14, thought it was FOx. Yeah...WB...well they own DC Comics...
  • Daniel
    This whole damn case is frustrating as hell. Yeah, Warner Brothers fucked up pretty bad when they decided to make a film that they didn't own the copyright to. And yeah, Fox is sort of in the right to want to protect that, but really, you can't tell me that they can't come to some sort of an agreement? Delaying the movie's release date wouldn't help the pricks gain any money, so I can't see them wanting to postpone the movie indefinitely. It would sour Fox's already sour reputation; you would think they would want to rebuild it after having so many failures in the past. And it's not helping that Warner Brothers has just poured a lot of money and effort into this, only to be sued right after it was made. It's just a clusterfuck all around.
  • Noname
    Like we say in Argentina: "Que FOX se vaya a la putísima madre que lo remil parió, estudio de mierda, dejen de joder con WATCHMEN"
  • bltzie
    Like we say in the Dominican: " FOX maldito mamaguebaso de mierda, deja de joder con WATCHMEN, coñaso!"
  • Dan Geer
    I guess I don't understand how Fox owns the copyright to Watchmen if they flat out passed on the movie. Did they still purchase the copyright even though they thought Watchmen was a lost cause?
  • -Peter-
    bunch of a-holes
  • BahHumbug
    Don't get me wrong, I'm pissed at FOX... but Warner should've really caught this when they have a whole division set aside to research this shit. Still, why the heck didn't FOX really push this before the film the was finished?
  • Galethog
    "copyright infringement is copyright infringement" Yep, I love how watchmen is doing but warner did wrong there. Fox should also have claimed their part long time ago. I think WB should release Watchmen ...free! XDXD Personally, I think Fox is not a good studio, though i enjoyed some of their marvel movies, but they had the rights so... We, as fans, are going to enjoy the movie one way or another, so let justice be made... then deliver Watchmen. It will be a lesson for both studios.
  • Jaf
    Goddamnit I don't understand this moot thing FOX is attempting. . .I don't give a shit what the paper might say but they have no grounds. . .and ballsy can't even describe just how late they decided to play the legal card
  • jeffrey
    To tell you the truth...i don't care who's right or wrong as long as the vision hopefully stays intact. This is the coporate world of film and no matter how we look at it artist will have to always fight for thier vision,but it will always be those with the money who will have the power to see this vision realized. Quite frankly I think both studios have blood on thier hands. WB stole the concept of the Matrix and were later sued for millions not to mention the bullshit they are putting Spike Jones through on Where The Wild Things Are. I for one would be psyched to sell one of my scripts to either studio and so would most of you guys so my challenge to everyone blogging this story is learn how to play the fucking game!!!
  • anonymous
    First they canceled Futurama, then they fucked up Dragonball, then they casted keanu reeves as Spike Spiegal, and now this. Those Fucking corporate bastards deserve to die. This is a shout out to all you arsenist out there. Molotovs to FOX!!!
  • KyB
    Bravo, I really hope WB wins.
  • Dan W
    Fox is greedy. How can they have the copyright to something and not agree to make the movie. It's almost as if they just wanted the copyright so that the movie couldn't be made ever or by any other company. It is clearly evident that fox doesn't give a damn about fans, good movies, or anything else besides making money. As long as the movie comes out on on the expected date and isn't altered in the slightest bit I will be happy. The law is the law, but Fox needs to get its head out of the fu**ing clouds.
  • I'm guessing that 20th Century Fox isn't going to move forward with their Dr. Suess "Horton the Elephant" series now. Seems the next book in line, "Horton Hatches The Egg" might be a little too touchy for them. "My egg!" cried Horton. "My egg! It's starting to hatch!" "But its mine!" Cried the bird when she heard the egg crack. The work was all done, now she wanted it back. "It's mine!" Mazie shouted, "You stole it from me!" "Get out of my nest! And get out of my tree!"
  • dac_fan
    People should pull to gether and boycot Fox films.
  • fox should just go fuck them selves
  • SS
    I guess now Disclaimers and Quitclaims will be standard after a Studio issues a "flat pass".

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