"Despicable" and "underhanded" are two of the words that came to mind when I heard about Fox's power play to steal Watchmen out from under Warner Brothers and market it as their own property. Now, one of the producers has stepped up with an open letter that lays bare not only how poorly Fox has behaved, but how difficult it was to ever make this happen in the first place.
... the flashpoint of this dispute came in late spring of 2005. Both Fox and Warner Brothers were offered the chance to make Watchmen. They were submitted the same package at the same time. ... The response we got from Fox was a flat "pass." That's it. An internal Fox email documents that executives there felt the script was one of the most unintelligible pieces of shit they had read in years. Conversely, Warner Brothers called us after having read the script and said they were interested in the movie ...
Did anyone at Fox ask to meet on the movie? No. Did anyone at Fox express any interest in the movie? No. Express even the slightest interest in the movie? Or the graphic novel? No.
Warner Brothers [supported], both financially and creatively, the development of the movie. And eventually, after over a year of work, they agreed to make the film, based on a script that, for what it's worth, was by and large very similar to the one Fox initially read and deemed an unintelligible piece of shit.
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.
If I ever get the chance to submit a creative project to a major studio, I plan on leaving Fox somewhere near the bottom of the list. If it's even on there at all.