Lawyers for 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. have agreed to let a federal judge decide whether Warner Bros. will be allowed to release "Watchmen" this spring, forgoing a jury trial that could have put the high-profile film's future into even longer limbo.
In court papers filed Monday with U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess, attorneys for Fox and Warner Bros. jointly said they would let the judge decide Jan. 20 whether Fox could block the film's theatrical distribution, now scheduled for March 6, as Fox has been seeking all along as part of its copyright infringement lawsuit against Warner Bros.
In a preliminary ruling issued Dec. 24, Feess said Fox, and not "Watchmen" producer and distributor Warner Bros., owned the right to distribute the film. Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc., and Fox is owned by News Corp.
In his December ruling, the judge urged the warring studios to negotiate a settlement, but no deal has been reached. Any potential trial on remaining parts of the lawsuit would be postponed until after the Jan. 20 hearing about the film's distribution status, the studios agreed in Monday's filing.