Posted on Thursday, January 8th, 2009 by David Chen
Watchmen fans who have even a passing familiarity with the legal troubles brought about by Fox’s lawsuit against Warner Brothers can probably guess how the folks at Warner Brothers feel about the whole thing: After surviving the arduous process of developing and creating a film now surrounded by immense buzz all over the Web and in comic book circles, Warner Brothers found itself being taken to court by a studio whose top-earning film this past summer was What Happens In Vegas. How would you feel about it?
Until now, most of the speculation about Warner’s legal/philosophical/emotional position on this issue has been exactly that: Speculation. However, earlier today, Drew McWeeny (previously Moriarty from AICN) posted up an open letter written by Lloyd Levin, one of Watchmen’s producers. Levin’s letter is striking both for its candor and its detailed description about the trials and tribulations that went into making of the film:
No one is more keenly aware of the irony of this dispute than Larry Gordon and I who have been trying to get this movie made for many years. There’s a list of people who have rejected the viability of a movie based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic graphic novel that reads like a who’s who of Hollywood. We’ve been told the graphic novel is unfilmable. After 9/11 some felt the story’s themes were too close to reality ever to be palatable to a mainstream audience…
Also endless are the list of studio rejections we accrued over the years. Larry and I developed screenplays at five different studios. We had two false starts in production on the movie. We were involved with prominent and commercial directors. Big name stars were interested. In one instance hundreds of people were employed, sets were being built – An A-list director and top artists in the industry were given their walking papers when the studio financing the movie lost faith.
Levin’s letter lays bare the immutable truth: “One reason the movie was made was because Warner Brothers spent the time, effort and money to engage with and develop the project. If Watchmen was at Fox the decision to make the movie would never have been made because there was no interest in moving forward with the project.” Consequently, the letter is perhaps most notable for the staunch moral position that Levin takes. Levin concludes:
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.
However you come down on the issue, it’s a fascinating look behind the scenes of one of the most controversial film-related lawsuits in recent memory. Check out the whole letter by going to Hitfix.