In an unexpected ruling that was handed down on Christmas eve, a Los Angeles federal judge ruled that 20th Century Fox holds a copyright interest in the fanboy comic book movie “Watchmen,” the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The movie has been shot already by director Zach Snyder (“300”) for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures and was set for a March release.
The release date of the film now remains uncertain.
According to the Times, the decision was disclosed in five-page written order by Judge Gary A. Fees. A more detailed order is expected in the coming weeks.
“Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the ‘Watchmen’ motion picture,” the ruling read.
The Judge went on to encourage Fox and Warner Bros. to focus their efforts on resolution rather than trial.
A Warner spokesman declined to comment to the Times on the ruling and the studio’s plans.
The rights to the “Watchmen” film have bounced around several studios, including Paramount and Universal, in a complicated studio round-table of stops and starts over many years.
Many fans of the graphic novel have been waiting years for the film’s release, and early footage which debuted at Comic Con in San Diego last July had raised expectations and buzz for the film.