The rights dispute between 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros over upcoming film Watchmen is reportedly "close" to being resolved.

The graphic novel adaptation, due for release in March, is the subject of a legal battle between the two studios over the distribution rights for the film and many had feared it could be delayed or even shelved.

However, according to the Hollywood Reporter, discussions held earlier this week could see the warring sides reaching an agreement.

"Neither Fox nor Warners would comment on the discussions, which continued for about 30 minutes in the [Los Angeles] chambers of Judge Gary Feess," the industry paper reports.

"Warners has not pressed its earlier request to move up the January 20th injunction hearing, suggesting a settlement is near."

Judge Feess declared last year that Fox does indeed own the US distribution rights to the film, on a copyright basis alone.

He was due to make a lengthier judgement prior to the full trial on January 20th but advised both parties to seek a settlement before then, with the new discussions suggesting progress has been made.

Televised trailers for the film's scheduled March release - including on the season premiere of Fox programme 24 - could also indicate that a deal could be imminent.

Starring Billy Crudup and Patrick Wilson, Zack Snyder's Watchmen is based on Alan Moore's graphic novel of the same name, widely held as one of the greatest comics ever written.

Moore's book, published by DC Comics as a monthly limited series in 1986 and 1987, tells of a group of 'superheroes' - without superpowers - whose role in society is called into question in a mid-80s US nearing nuclear war.

13/01/2009 08:24:30