‘Watchmen’ trial date set for Jan. 6

Fox lawsuit hasn't budged WB's release date

A Los Angeles federal judge has set a Jan. 6 trial date for 20th Century Fox’s lawsuit over Warners’ right to make a film based on the graphic novel “Watchmen.”

Judge Gary Allen Feess set the date Tuesday during a meeting between attorneys, setting the stage for discovery and deposition proceedings during the rest of this year. Warner Bros. has not backed off March 6 as the opening for “Watchmen,” directed by Zack Snyder and starring Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley.

Feess indicated Tuesday that the case was not suitable for preliminary injunction and that the issues were too complex to be resolved on an interim basis. The judge had already indicated that he wants the case to move quickly, asking the two parties previously for expedited discovery.

Two weeks ago, Feess denied Warner’s motion to dismiss the suit, which alleges that Fox retained distribution rights to the graphic novel through a 1991 claim. Fox has asserted it retains the rights since producer Larry Gordon’s option to acquire Fox’s remaining interest in “Watchmen” was never exercised, thereby leaving Fox with its rights under a 1994 turnaround agreement.

Fox spent more than $1 million developing “Watchmen,” based on the novel penned by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.

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