20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers have agreed to allow a federal judge to decide whether or not Watchmen will be released on March 6, as was originally planned by Warner Brothers. The studios made a statement, as reported by the LA Times, where they agreed to allow U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess to make a final decision, forgoing a jury trial that could have put the film into limbo for an even longer time.
In a preliminary ruling issued December 24, 2008, Feess said that Fox owned the right to distribute Watchmen, and not Warner Brothers. In that same ruling, Feess urged the studios to negotiate a settlement, rather than to bring the case to trial. Any potential trial on remaining parts of the lawsuit will be postponed until after the January 20 hearing about the film's distribution.
"We are gratified by the recognition of our rights in the judge's order, which speaks for itself," Fox said in a statement Tuesday.
Warner Bros. said in a statement: "We will continue to pursue all of our legal options to defeat Fox's meritless claims and remain confident that we will ultimately prevail."
In any case, fans will be watching closely to see what happens with Watchmen, with many fans remaining hopeful that distribution rights and arguments about who should earn the money from the film won't prevent them from seeing the adaptation of the graphic novel created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.