If you haven’t heard yet, the rights for the Watchmen movie are in contention between Warner Bros, who produced the film, and Fox who claims that they still had ownership of the property from when they optioned it previously. Watchmen producer Lloyd Levin wrote an open letter regarding the WB vs. Fox court case. (read the whole thing here)  He defends WB, stating that Fox passed on the project and referred to it as “unintelligible shit.” It’s very cry baby, but it gives some interesting back story on how the movie got made. From what I can tell, things aren’t very clear in the rights ownership, but the juvenile logic behind Levin’s opinion is staggering. Here’s a sample:

Cry Baby Lloyd wrote:

Does a film studio have the right to stand in the way of an artistic endeavor and determine that it shouldn’t exist? If the project had been sequestered at Fox, if Fox had any say in the matter, Watchmen simply wouldn’t exist today, and there would be no film for Fox to lay claim on. It seems beyond cynical for the studio to claim ownership at this point.

By his own admission, Judge Feess is faced with an extremely complex legal case, with a contradictory contractual history, making it difficult to ascertain what is legally right. Are there circumstances here that are more meaningful, which shed light on what is ultimately just, to be taken into account when assessing who is right? In this case, what is morally right, beyond the minutiae of decades-old contractual semantics, seems clear cut.

For the sake of the artists involved, for the hundreds of people, executives and filmmakers, actors and crew, who invested their time, their money, and dedicated a good portion of their lives in order to bring this extraordinary project to life, the question of what is right is clear and unambiguous – Fox should stand down with its claim.

My father, who was a lawyer and a stickler for the minutiae of the law, was always quick to teach me that the determination of what is right and wrong was not the sole purview of the courts. I bet someone at Fox had a parent like mine who instilled the same sense of fairness and justice in them.

Morally right? If Fox technically has the rights still, it’s morally right for them to get their money from it. And even if Fox wins the court case, WB still has to pay everyone who worked on it, so I don’t get what moral grounds he’s standing on.

Who’s to say that the script they shopped around for years isn’t a piece of shit? And, yes, it is 100% OK for a major studio to stand in the way of artistic endeavor. It’s their money! A major studio telling you they won’t fund your movie doesn’t mean they’re “standing in the way,” it means they won’t give you their money to make it. Grab a camera and make it with action figures in your bedroom. I bet you $10 that if I went up to Lloyd Levin and asked him to fund the novel I want to write, I’d pitch it to him, show him the first ten pages, and he’d say no. Why? Because he’d be afraid he wouldn’t make his money back! But, of course, that would mean he would be “standing in the way of my artistic endeavor” which we all know is the greatest travesty known to Hollyw-, I mean man.

By Guest Commentator Tom Brooks