LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Twentieth Century Fox said on Monday it will seek an injunction to block release of the Warner Bros movie “Watchmen” after a Los Angeles court ruled a copyright lawsuit against Warner can go forward.
The movie about raffish, flawed superheroes — which has already been shot — is slated for release on March 6, said Warner Bros spokesman Scott Roe.
The highly anticipated film, with a budget believed to be about $120 million, is based on a 1980s DC Comics graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.
In his decision released last week, Judge Gary Feess of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California wrote that Fox could hold some of the rights to the material, even if it did not hold all rights.
Fox argues it acquired motion picture rights to the “Watchmen” graphic novel in the last 1980s, and that even though it relinquished certain rights to the material in 1991 it held onto the right to distribute the first movie.
“We will be asking the court to enforce Fox’s copyright interests in “The Watchmen” and enjoin the release of the Warner Brothers film and any related ‘Watchmen’ media that violate our copyright interests in that property,” said Fox spokesman Gregg Brilliant.
“The Watchmen” is directed by Zack Snyder, who made the 2007 hit movie “300.” The film is based on edgy material and takes an unorthodox approach to the superhero movie by focusing on flawed antiheroes.
Scott Rowe, a spokesman for Warner Bros, said the ruling only means that the case will go forward.
“The judge did not opine at all on the merits, other than to conclude that Fox satisfied the pending requirements,” Rowe said. “We respectfully disagree with Fox’s position and do not believe they have any rights in and to this project.”
Feess’ ruling was issued on Wednesday, in response to Warner Bros’ request to have the case dismissed. Warner Bros made the request after Fox sought an injunction against release of “Watchmen.”
Fox filed its lawsuit against Warner Bros in February. Fox’s accusations against its rival studio included copyright infringement, interference with contract and breach of contract.
DC Comics, the company behind the “Watchmen” graphic novel, is a subsidiary of Warner Bros, which is owned by Time Warner Inc. Fox is owned by News Corp
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Peter Henderson and Carol Bishopric