Warner Bros. and director Zack Snyder (300, Dawn of the Dead) are already in production on a feature film based on the best-selling graphic novel Watchmen, but 20th Century Fox is looking to shut it down. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox has filed a lawsuit claiming that it has exclusive rights to develop, produce and distribute a movie based on the tome penned by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.
The suit claims that Fox picked up movie rights to Watchmen and screenplays by Charles McKeown and Sam Hamm between 1986 and 1990. The studio then assigned certain rights to Largo International, providing that the studio held exclusive rights to distribute the first Watchmen film. Largo eventually folded and rights reverted to producer Lawrence Gordon, who, according to Fox, agreed to pay the studio a buy-out price if he took the project to another studio.
Originally published 1986, Watchmen is set in a time when superheroes have been outlawed and revolves around a group of caped crusaders who struggle with their own personal demons while trying to avert a nuclear war between the United States and Russia. Snyder is currently shooting the pic with a cast that includes Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino and Malin Akerman. Warner plans to release the film theatrically next year if Fox doesn’t prevail in its efforts to grind production to a halt.