Watchmen's future in doubt after surprise ruling

Watchmen's future in doubt after surprise ruling

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The "Watchmen" film has now spent eighteen years being torn leg from arm by its quarrelsome, abusive parents, and on Christmas eve, while visions of Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan were dancing in the dreams of every nerd from Albany to the Alamo, a judge ruled in favor of 20th Century Fox, making Warner Bros.' March release plans a near impossibility.

"Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the 'Watchmen' motion picture," the ruling said.  Legalese might be hard for us laymen to follow. But it's not hard to see how losing the distribution rights to your $120 million opus might put a wee hitch in your getalong.

The ruling comes after more than a decade of switchbacks and turnarounds, which saw the superhero epic bouncing from studio to studio, through the hands of a dozen directors in pre-production, ultimately landing at Warner Bros. with a March 6 release date.

Coming to rest ultimately in director Zack Snyder's hands (the same that made 300 the washed out, two-dimensional non-factor it was), the ambition of "Watchmen" has impressed many-- the film currently weighs in at over three hours, and carries an R-rating, something virtually unheard of in a world where scenes are shaved with razor blades in order to curry the ever more lucrative PG 13.

And yet, speculation will have to continue-- the surprise ruling issued on December 24 by Judge Feess is incomplete, and he has promised a full ruling when the holiday hub bub blows over. The silver lining? This gives all you slackers out there a chance to read the book first and earn your snob wings.

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