MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Watchman Myopics

I will be brief, since I think I’ve been clear…
It pains me to see smart people act like fools.
If any of you lent a friend $10,000 to start a business they needed $200,000 to really start and you had the understanding that if they ever got their funding, you would be paid back, and if not, you would own some percentage of the business… and your friend took your money, almost got funded but didn’t, then ultimately did, but acted as though you didn’t exist…
Money against film projects is as Studio 101 as it gets. I would be shocked if Drew McW doesn’t have at least one writing deal over recent years that is not in turnaround and carrying the burden of what he was paid on it. I was a screenwriter for 2 years and I have one. Some of the best scripts ever are sitting unmade because of the amount that they have sitting against any future production. Superman Returns had over $60 million against it, but WB went forward because they hoped it would outdo that burden.
Studio 101.
And all this geek whining tells you just why the geek community is not taken seriously.
It’s politicians talking morality and then getting caught with their dicks out.
There is nothing wrong with wanting Watchmen to come out and for creativity to reign over money. There’s nothing wrong (except that it’s mildly delusional) to believe that Tom Rothman is not just a more honest version of every other businessman in this game and that most would be thrilled to have his track record (or Mechanic’s for that matter). But suggesting that something is wrong with Fox getting it’s absolute, legal, moral, not remotely unusual due on this movie is infantile and/or intentionally self-deceptive.
That’s all I’m sayin’…
And before you start telling me that I am in anyone’s pocket, keep in mind… I knew this was going to happen almost exactly as it has the day I read the legal docs. It’s not a borderline call. The only question is who pays what to whom. WB infringed on an existing contract and either maliciously or incompetently moved forward. Whoever compared it to Art Buchwald came close… but Fox is Buchwald and WB is Par… though Fox’s claim is much more solid than Buchwald’s. They wrote checks. They left it sitting like over 50% of written screenpllays sit in this business of turnarounds.
And the Fox Knew… Fox Should Have Pursued Earlier thing is utter bullshit. If your landlord doesn’t ask for your rent every month and you get 6 months behind, does your obligation go away because your landlord didn’t manage your finances and push you to act responsibly?
If “geeks” want to be treated like serious adults, they need to start banging on WB to eat their porridge and pay what they owe, so y’all can see Dr Manhatten hang out on Mars. If someone steals from someone you don’t like, you don’t just keep blaming the guy you don’t like because he is “evil.” Well… you do if you are six.

Be Sociable, Share!

23 Responses to “Watchman Myopics”

  1. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Notice how the Liberal Media is by and large silent on this Hollywood farkup. They’re too pigged out on what Biggie Smalls called “Hype and B.S.”

  2. jeffmcm says:

    Well, it’s very ‘inside baseball’ and there are no stars involved, so I think your double-ironic (triple?) ‘liberal media’ belives that the mainstream audience doesn’t care (and they don’t).

  3. Most people don’t care about this stuff, except Watchmen fanboys and Hollywood insiders. So yes, JeffMCM is right. the mainstream folks don’t care, period.
    we are too busy paying attention to what’s happening in the Middle East and worrying about the failing economy.

  4. David Poland says:

    I basically agree that it is inside baseball… but we are 3 months from release and they can screw up the release with a lot of drama and/or a delay.

  5. Josh Massey says:

    “And all this geek whining tells you just why the geek community is not taken seriously.”
    Reading the AICN crowd’s reaction to this story was enough to make me wish the Internet had an age limit. Of course, most of those guys were probably over 30,…

  6. Hopscotch says:

    I read AICN pretty regularly…until 2002 or so. Then I just quit. Not sure if it’s because I entered my 20’s or I figured out the site is a suck-up club.
    As a film fan this is kind of preverse, but every year there’s usually one or two movies I flat out (privately) root to fail. I hope it sucks, I hope people are disappointed because I either don’t like the filmmakers (actors / director) or the property or that kind of movie.
    This year it is WATCHMEN. I just want it to go away.

  7. Tofu says:

    And the Fox Knew… Fox Should Have Pursued Earlier thing is utter bullshit.
    In legal standing, absolutely. In terms of business, it borders on unethical, and has set in a negative image for what could have been a simple buyout transaction. The landlord analogy is fairly weak, and honestly, an analogy isn’t even needed here in the first place.
    Fox is losing public image credibility not because they want their share, but because everyone had the suspicion it would alter the release date. Now with Fox Legal stating exactly this intention, we the consumer aren’t exactly throwing a party over the matter.

  8. alynch says:

    The landlord analogy is fairly weak, and honestly, an analogy isn’t even needed here in the first place.
    I agree that the landlord analogy doesn’t work, but not for your reasons. It doesn’t work because a landlord is not a tenant’s direct competitor. The fact that FOX & WB are competitors makes bigger bullshit of the notion that FOX should’ve given WB a heads up. Beyond that, it’s untrue anyway. FOX did contact WB regarding this contract issue prior to production beginning. In short, this fuckup is entirely WB’s. To blame FOX for this is to be logic’s enemy.

  9. Josh Massey says:

    “In terms of business, it borders on unethical,…”
    In the same way Canada borders Saudi Arabia, perhaps.
    Fox has an obligation to one group of people. Not Warner. Not “Watchmen” fans. Not the bloggers, commenters, or pundits. Fox has an obligation to its stockholders, and the timing absolutely does benefit them.

  10. anghus says:

    i dont think anyone ever accused you of being in the pocket of 20th Century Fox….

  11. martin says:

    I don’t care whether or not Watchmen comes out, it looks like typical comic book nonsense. But I do think that the industry needs to do a better job of policing itself on this kind of thing, and not treat other studios as villains they need to hurt at the box office. Occasionally there’s a release date scuffle between blockbusters, but for the most part there’s a respect amongst the studios to do what’s best for the industry. This kind of thing is bad for the industry. As I said, the film looks like garbage, but that’s not the point. There’s a lot of people that will want to see it, and taking it out of release is bad for moviegoers as well as struggling theater chains.

  12. IOIOIOI says:

    Martin and Hoppy pretty much sum this group of people up rather well. No wonder so many of you are irksome. Nevertheless; people hate Rothman. They hate the man, they hate this move, and they will use this move to go after him.
    It has nothing to do with what’s right or wrong. It has everything to do with the people rightfully taking it out on a company, that lacks the heart and balls to produce something like The Watchmen. If that does not make you mad. You need to visit Whoville, discover the meaning of fucking Xmas, and have your heart grow three sizes bigger.
    You can keep on having a problem with the geeks, Heat. I will keep on have a problem with people like you, who sell shit like this; “It’s his destiny.” Really? This movie is nothing but Millions set in India, and I am supposed to take that seriously? A love interest? In INDIA? They have a westernized version of love now? Really? Get the fuck out of here. Robin Radzinksy or the BAT for the WIN!

  13. Martin S says:

    IO – how could Fox have produced this film when Gordon had never presented it to them, in any form, since the early 90’s? They gave him creative control and in turn, when he had something, he was supposed to run it by them first. If they liked it, they’d make it. If they didn’t, he was free to go. If he didn’t want to put it in front of them, then they wanted a million dollars.
    This was way before Rothman. Mostly under Mechanic, but also when Chernin ran the studio.
    This “rightfully taking it out on a company”… Yeah, they’ve produced a lot of crap, but where’s the outrage against Gordon who’s held onto this project for dear f’ing life? It would have been made by now, and there’s a distinct chance it could have been a Cameron project if it stayed at Fox under Mechanic. Hell, if it went with Silver, you might have seen a Wachowski Watchmen instead of Speed Racer.

  14. IOIOIOI says:

    Martin: I never stated this made any sense, but it does have to do with FOX sucking at GENRE FILMS. While Warners are seen as going out of their way to make a GREAT GENRE FILM in THE WATCHMEN. If you think it looks like crap, then you most have some serious fucking issues with genre films. Nevertheless; this has everything to do with FOX being involved. If it were any other studio. The uproar from the geeks would be minimal. This being Rothman and the douches at FOX. Well… it makes people angry. Real angry.

  15. montrealkid says:

    The other angle not being talked about enough, is WBs refusal to settle, especially when they are so clearly in the wrong. While the geeks are ready to hang Fox, where is their outrage at WB for their legal equivalent of sticking their head in the sand? Their refusal to suck it up and negotiate a settlement is the real source of any release date delay. Of course WB, when Fox wins their injuction (and they will), will point the fanboys toward Fox to unleash their anger.
    And the argument that “Fox isn’t good at genre films” is ridiculous. Their success X-Men was pretty showed every other studio that comic movies could be done, please the faithful and rake in a bunch of money.

  16. Bennett says:

    yeah a little too inside baseball….Basically, Fox did the smart thing….and will make a huge profit for the shareholders….It is time for Warner to fire some of their legal department
    I think the average movie fan cares about two things…..
    1. Will this affect(or is it effect) the release date? I think that viewers like myself(who knew nothing about the Watchman comic) were excited to see the film will be pissed having to wait to see a completed film because lawyers are negotiating what percentage of who gets what. I loved the trailer.
    2. Will Fox make Snyder change anything in the film? I loved Dawn of the Dead and 300, so I believe that he will make a film that a mass audience as well as the geeks will like. I had heard that he had made a 3 hour hard R rated flick…Not exactly the most profitable presentation. If Fox rips it to under two hours and make it a PG-13 friendly film, then I will be dissapointed.

  17. montrealkid says:

    Bennett, at this point all Fox cares about is one thing: $$$ They have no interest in editing Snyder’s film or making any post-production decisions (it was already announced that Snyder’s longer cut will be on DVD, while the theatrical runtime will be in the neighborhood of 2.5 hours). All Fox is looking for is a percentage of theatrical and home video, and as DP mentioned, probably their logo added in front of the film and in the credits.

  18. IOIOIOI says:

    Of Montreal: Xmen and X2 were Singer. What happened with LAST STAND? Everything they made forward? Fox suck at genre films. That’s how it is at the moment, and this is why people are angry.

  19. IOIOIOI says:

    Oh yeah: if I ran fucking Warners. No matter how wrong I may be in this lawsuit. There’s NO CHANCE… NO CHANCE… NO CHANCE IN HELL, that I would let FOX put their cottonpickin’ logo in front of OUR MOVIE. NO FUCKING WAY! If FOX want that… they are higher than Fixed News.

  20. Martin S says:

    IO – you would put the logo on or you would be fired and sued by your own company.
    As for “Fixed News”…I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. This is all Newscorp resentment dressed in righteous genre indignation. They could fire Rothman tomorrow, and it still won’t make a difference to the Oufoxed believers. McWeeney’s tune might change, but that’s about it.

  21. montrealkid says:

    IOIOIO: What happened with The Last Stand? It was the most financially successful film of the trilogy. All comic book rights holders care about when optioning their films is if they studio can make them money and Fox has proven time and again that they can.

  22. The Big Perm says:

    So IO’s brilliant legal analysis is that WB should use the “Fox sucks at genre movies so let us win” argument in court. Who knows, it just may hold up if the judge is a nerdy 14 year old.

  23. Martin S says:

    Montreal – Don’t you think it’s safe to say the majority of comic rights holders only care about an option that pays up front?

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon