The “Turnaround” might be the best hope that we might have of Watchmen getting itself released.
ScreenRant has a great article that details the history of who owned the rights to Watchmen and when:
Fox originally acquired the rights to the graphic novel back in 1987 and did intend to produce the film. Their plan was to have the original author, Alan Moore, write the screenplay. Unfortunately at the time they were not aware of Moore’s opinion regarding a film adaptation of his work – which was that he didn’t think it was suitable for a cinematic format.
The article goes on to explain what Turnaround means, and in a nutshell it can be compared to a lease.
If you have a lease on an apartment, you don’t own the apartment, but you are paying for the rights to that apartment. You get to live there, keep your stuff there and even have utilities there in your name. But its still not yours despite how much it looks like it is. If you wanted to move, or let someone else live in “your” apartment, you could sublet it to them. Now the lease is still yours, but you have made another arrangement for someone else to experience a similar illusion and benefit of ownership. This in a nutshell is how a Turnaround works.
Lawrence Gordon (a Fox Exec) was the last person to have the Turnaround Rights to Watchmen. Still an employee of Fox, but still holding the rights FOR Fox (back from a previous turnaround)
It seems that Lawrence Gordon gave Warner Bros. the go-ahead to shoot the film. WB figures he owns the turnaround rights, so they’re golden (of course this doesn’t explain why they didn’t do some due diligence on the situation with a crack team of lawyers).Gordon didn’t cross the t’s and dot the i’s on the Fox side of things, and assigned rights to WB incorrectly or incompletely in regards to his agreement with Fox.
Now I can see how what seemed like common sense to the everyday guy is a big misunderstanding about the rights to the film.
Look at it as the WB buying the turnaround rights back from the very company they sold it to in the first place. Back the truck full of money up and get this movie out for the benefit of both studios.