Thursday, 21 August 2008

Who Watches the Watchmen?

Hollywood blogger and occasional movie-maker Kevin Smith has raved about about the forthcoming $100m blockbuster Watchmen (its official website here is suddenly unavailable at the time of writing). But there again, Kevin Smith raved about Sin City, didn't he? With the notable exception of Batman and Spiderman almost all comic book/graphic novel adaptations in recent years have been shuddering disasters - The Fantastic Four, V for Vendetta, The League of Gentlemen, The Hulk, to name but a few. Will Watchman, originally written in 1986 by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, be any different? As a film it’s had various directors attached over almost a ten year period. Some were hoping that Terry Gilliam would succeed in his long quest to make it, but too many dollar-hemorrhaging productions and too many tilts at windmills put a stop to that.

But it looks as if no-one will get to watch the Watchmen if 20th Century Fox have their way; they’ve launched a lawsuit claiming prior copyright on the project. They’re out for blood too, with industry bible Variety claiming Fox actually want the film destroyed, and not distributed at all. What seems more likely is that they’ll ask for a hefty pay-off - $25m is being discussed. On top of that they’ll be a share of the ancillary profits; Warners is already planning two spin-offs for the DVD release.

Fox has already spent $1m developing the film. When projects drag on as long as this, it seems that people forget who signed what document and when. But watch this space. Around the globe, comic book fans are planning noisy protests outside the Fox headquarters in LA and we could well see people with limited social skills moping round outside Fox's London HQ in Soho Square, fanning each other with copies of the mercifully unfilmable Swamp Thing (Alan Moore's masterpiece).

If comic books are an important part of your mental architecture, you can sign a petition here.

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