Their filings spoke to the provision's design as a means of a more equitable negotiation measure for writers, and everyone who seems to know what they're talking about seems to believe that was intent.
We talked about this before. You’re refering to the statuary background potion which is exactly what it is, statutory background of the 1976 Copyright Act. It doesn't represent the Thomas Brothers actual claim nor gives us any indication of what the Thomas Brothers motives are and what will they do when or if they reclaim the US Copyright back (even if we all have our personal suspicions.)
It's hardly premature or reading too much into anything to assume there's a good chance this was a financial settlement and not Disney inexplicably handing over the rights to a franchise they're clearly interested in exploiting.
One can make assumptions, guess, speculate, certainly, but we won't in our article.
People put far too much emphasis on the arguing over dates, as though that was the actual issue at play. It wasn't. They invoked the provision to return the rights; this normally triggers a discussion and negotiation. In this case it didn't, as Fox seemed to just ignore the whole thing, and so they were legally obliged to follow through. When the dates were argued they reapplied to keep their application to revoke open, otherwise they would've lost that bargaining chip.
We have Miller currently sitting with his "Friday the 13th" US rights back and we have Barker currently sitting with his "Hellraiser" US rights back, with a date decided by settlement. This is precedent enough not to declare what normally happens in cases where authors getting rights back in regards to spec scripts that turned into big franchises.
The issue has always been about rights and their worth, not dates.
Rights, no proof yet of worth. Lawsuits are literal. These lawsuits were indeed about dates, about when the inevitability of those rights changing hands is supposed to occur. What Thomas Brothers endgame is, what they actually want to do with it... sell it back... always own a piece... negotiate some creative control.. shelve it, we're not going to assume, whatever we believe the odds favor. We're not in the heads of the Thomas Brothers so we won't pretend to be. We'll just report as it unfolds.