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