Culture

Rewatching the Watchmen

Watchmen screenwriter* David Hayter wants fanboys and fangirls to see Watchmen for a second time. This is the movie’s second weekend in the US (and here in OZ) and it looks like it will stiff – comparatively speaking. Apparently it’s pulled in US $92 million, but adverse reviews and word-of-mouth will stop it from having that huge second weekend that a movie needs to be a true blockbuster. And a film as expensive to make as this one ($120 million) really does need to pull in the big moolah.

I’m not sure what I think about being asked to go see a movie for second or third time to give it that really big lift that it needs to be an unequivocal success. Don’t I live in a free-market economy where this kind of thing sorts itself out? I mean if the movie was truly kickarse in an obvious crowd-pleasing way, then I don’t think it would need this kind of special pleading in order to make it the huge success that screenwriter Hayter and director Zack Snyder want it to be.

I thought the film was excellent. However, apart from my geek buddies, all the other film-heads that I am in contact with have labelled it boring, confusing and overlong. That’s the sort of word-of-mouth that kills.

watchmen

If they wanted a film that pulls in $200 or $300 million, then it needed to have a simplified storyline with clear goals like an X-Men flick. The back-stories and multiple plot strands are not the sort of thing that excites the popcorn crowd. And by not having an explosive ending in which the hammer comes down on the bad guys, the movie cheated its audience out of its thirst for retribution. That would have had ‘em telling their buddies about the film’s must-see awesomeness. Violent closure. Smiting the enemy. That kind of satisfaction is what gets your filmgoer talking. See what happens when you’re faithful to the source material! Bad Hayter! Bad Snyder!

So although I think Hayter seems sincere, I believe that I will keep my money in my pocket. I’ve already plonked down AU$16 to see this. I wasn’t going to see it a second time at the movies and asking me to do so, seems, well, naff and a bit wrong. It’s not a cause or a charity, it’s a multi-million dollar film that didn’t do as well as expected. The writer and the director got a big payday out of this and asking me for more of my cash seems rather impolite.

Interestingly over at Slate Magazine in their Big Money section Chadwick Matlin and Chris Wilson predicted this soft box office result a week ago. See why here.

I first saw mention of this in the Defamer column at gawker.com, but have linked instead to the original letter at Hardcore Nerdity because is a snarkfest that doesn’t need any more hits than it already gets. Not on my watch!

Elevate the Insignificant,

Mr Trivia

*Alex Tse has a co-writing credit.

0 thoughts on “Rewatching the Watchmen

  1. I agree – it feels very strange to be asked by a film’s creator to please go and see it again. Surely if it’s that good, I shouldn’t need to be asked? In a lot of ways, I think The Dark Knight is to blame. To paraphrase the film “they, changed things”. While Spiderman and X-Men certainly pulled crowds, those films were also targeted to a wider audience. The Dark Knight showed execs that people can, and will, go see a darker comic book film. And a lot of them did.

    After the Dark Knight there was so much talk of translating more comics, and even re-booting some recently made films, into new series (franchises, they call them) with the same tone as the Dark Knight. It wreaked of desperation, and showed (once again) Hollywood really doesn’t really understand why films succeed and why they don’t.

    So even though Watchmen is a completely different beast, and has done well on its own merits, I’m sure someone crunching numbers in a office somewhere is comparing this result to the Dark Knight, and calling it disappointing. And that’s what Hayter is trying to combat here. I don’t think it’s to do with Snyder and Hayter wanting the film to be a success, it’s because they need it to be. It’s because they know that the power’s that be will look at anything less than Dark Knight like box-office as a failure, which is going to make it very hard for whoever wants to make the next ‘Watchmen’.

    I should note at this point, the photo I posted on twitter of the empty cinema was exaggerated. I was (as always) super early. By the time the film rolled, I’d say there were around 30 or so people in attendance, and when I left, there were at least the same amount waiting outside. Not bad numbers for a Saturday afternoon-slash-early evening, but, well, it’s no Dark Knight.

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