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‘Watchmen’ trial moved back

Judge delays courtdate to Jan. 20

A Los Angeles federal judge has moved the trial for “Watchmen” back two weeks to Jan. 20 after declining to issue a ruling on whether Fox or Warner Bros. controls the rights to the project.

Judge Gary Allen Feess set the new trial date Monday, noting that he’s required to handle a criminal matter on Jan. 6. He also refused to make a pre-trial summary judgment — as requested by both sides — because, he said, the contracts between Fox and “Watchmen” producer Larry Gordon are so open to interpretation that a trial is required.

Warner Bros. has not backed off a release date of March 6 for “Watchmen,” directed by Zack Snyder and starring Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley.

Fox’s suit, filed in February, contends that it retains distribution rights to the graphic novel penned by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. It asserts that 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.

Warner Bros. has denied Fox’s assertions and contended Fox doesn’t hold the copyright.

Fox spent more than $1 million developing “Watchmen.”

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