I’m not sure when (all the “Watchmen” stories begin to blur together at some point) but recently we linked to a humorous but pointed article from Cracked writer Daniel O’Brien where he cordially invited Fox to “eat several dicks” because of the legally wrangling they’ve attempted with “Watchmen”. O’Brien compared the case to preparing bacon. Warner Bros. bought the bacon and intended to cook it up nice and they did. Fox had no intention of eating said bacon, thus defeating its delicious purpose.
In an open letter posted on Drew McWeeny’s (aka AICN’s Moriarty) new site, HitFix.com, producer Lloyd Levin essentially makes the same point. Fox, in the end, may be in the legal right. The contracts and the lawyering may just shake out their way. But from an ethical standpoint, they are slimy fuckers (my words, not his). Here’s how Levin, whose been involved in the project over the past twenty years, puts it:
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.
If Fox deserves any money, it should be for turning it down because had Fox accepted it, their current track record indicates they would have just fucked it up anyway. Just look at “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. Folks are excited for that flick as long as they don’t know what happening behind the scenes. With “Watchmen”, Fox is made a nakedly obvious cash grab and they got it.
Head on over to HitFix to read Levin’s impassioned response to this whole matter. It’s a great read and covers the difficulties in getting this film made and the irony of more than one studio wanting credit after so many turned it down over the past couple decades.