Story @ www.Comics2Film.com:
"hollywoodreporter.com February 12, 2008 - Today's The Hollywood Reporter indicates that 20th Century Fox has thrown the first punch in a legal dust-up with Warner Bros. over the rights to the 'Watchmen' movie. Fox claims exclusive copyrights and contract rights to the movie, a claim stemming from a tangled chain of rights transfers dating back to 1986, when the studio apparently obtained all film rights to Alan Moore's groundbreaking mini-series.
Quoting The Reporter article by Leslie Simmons directly:
'Fox claims that between 1986 and 1990, it acquired all movie rights to the 12-issue DC Comics series and screenplays by Charles McKeown and Sam Hamm. In 1991, Fox assigned some rights via a quitclaim to Largo International with the understanding that the studio held exclusive rights to distribute the first motion picture based on "Watchmen," according to the lawsuit. When Largo dismantled, the rights were transferred to producer Lawrence Gordon. Under a "turnaround agreement" between Fox and Gordon, the producer agreed to pay a buy-out price to Fox if he entered into any agreement with another studio or third party to develop or produce "Watchmen," among other things. The project apparently bounced around to Universal and Paramount before returning to Warners. Now, Fox claims that neither Gordon nor Warners has paid the buy-out price or advised the studio of any other conditions required under the agreement, including procedures necessary to acquire the rights to "Watchmen" from Fox. '
As 'Watchmen' has been in development for some time now, readers may be wondering why Fox waited until principal photography was largely wrapped to assert their rights. One reason might be to increase pressure on Warner Bros. With so much time and money invested on 'Watchmen' so far, it would be impossible for Warner to simply scuttle the project, something they may have been inclined to do had the lawsuit come before production start. Now the studio is "all in" and more likely to strike a deal in order to protect their investment. Fox's suit seeks to prevent Warner from moving forward, but odds are the film will proceed unabated as deals are made and settlements reached. ..."