The answer to the question, as we now know, is “Fox, not Warner Brothers.” In a summary judgment ruling on the issue of who owns the distribution rights for the movie Watchmen, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that Fox and not Warner Brothers owned at minimum the right to distribute this sure-to-be-profitable movie.
Watchmen is one of the most-anticipated movies of 2009. It is based on the landmark graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, who also re-spun the Batman character into the darker, brooding form he is known by today. But Watchmen is what started the whole “comic books for grownups” thing — and it really does tear down and deconstruct the whole genre of comic books and superheroes, as surely as the movie Unforgiven did to the western movie.
I just re-read Watchmen after seeing the really good trailer and was reminded of how really great it was. Apparently the movie is cut to two and a half hours long and is, with some labor, as close to true-to-the-book as can be done. (After re-reading it, I can understand how it was thought by many to be “unfilmable.”) That is longer than most distributors like to have movies cut for. Now, the Lord of the Rings movies proved that people will sit through a 150-minute movie, and go back to see it again and again. But they’ll only do that if it’s really good.
Fox is, I hope, intelligent enough to leave a good movie alone. I can only hope that Watchmen is good, that it has a good script to back up what appear to be superb visuals. But at this point, I can only hope that the movie gets distributed at all.
And, Readers, if you haven’t read Watchmen yet, I recommend it. It’s not like anything you’ve ever read before, or since, and it holds up just as well now as it did twenty years ago when I first read it.