Who Watches the Box Office? Why The New Watchmen Movie Will Bomb


As a long-time comic book fan, I can understand the enthusiasm surrounding all of comic book geekdom over the new movie based on the classic graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

From the trailers and photos I’ve seen, this film has the slam-bang visual appeal of modern superhero movies such as the Spider-Man and X-Men series, while maintaining its adherence to the original story material. In many cases, in fact, the film appears to be less of an adaptation of the comic and more of a literal translation.

Although those of us who love and understand the superhero genre recognize Watchmen (the book) for the classic work that it is, many barriers exist between that understanding and the mainstream movie audience.


Unknown Characters

The average moviegoer has been exposed to characters such as Batman, Superman and Spider-Man through other media. They have that initial familiarity to guide them through the characters’ numerous film incarnations.

Many comic book fans will recognize the characters of Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan, but non-fans won’t.

Movie fans unfamiliar with the book may see these heroes as “knock-offs” of more famous characters (which, in fact, they are, but not the ones they think).


Unknown Actors

One undeniable factor that leads to Hollywood buzz and big box office numbers is the presence of an “above-the-title” lead actor. The climb to the top of the ticket sales table is much tougher (though not impossible) for films that feature relative unknowns and career character actors. When the most famous actor in the film is known as “that guy from Almost Famous” and he’s in blue full-body makeup for most of his screen time, this can pose a serious problem for a film’s financial success.


Rated R

Graphic, bloody violence and nudity from both sexes are just the things that give a “superhero” movie bad publicity in the eyes of crusading parents’ groups and self-appointed moralists who wish to campaign against “poisoning the minds of children”.

The fact that the movie is rated “R” is almost irrelevant, as the story was not meant for children either in its original incarnation or in this one. Comic book movies, despite the success of films such as The Dark Knight, are still seen by some as juvenile entertainment. The presence of such adult situations, while integral to the story, will still leave a bad taste with ticket buyers expecting a spandex-clad joyride.


Moral Ambiguity

In times of economic uncertainty and fear, most people go to the movies to escape their worries and find a sense of sureness in their chaotic world. Good guy fights bad guy, good guy wins, and bad guy goes to jail – simple, right? But what happens when you’re not sure who’s good and who’s bad?

Is the insane Rorschach supposed to be a voice of reason? How can a sadist like the Comedian be considered America’s greatest hero? Is the all-powerful Dr. Manhattan really above the ideas of “good” and “evil”? While these make for fascinating questions in a college literature class, they may also alienate movie watchers who prefer car chases and explosions with their popcorn.


The Ending

*Spoiler Alert* The ending of Watchmen is what really makes it stand out as a tale and blows the minds of everyone who has ever read the graphic novel.  The ending was one of the main factors that supposedly made the movie “unfilmable” as any scene on film couldn’t stand up to Moore’s comic masterpiece.  However when Zack Snyder decided he could undertake this masterpiece to the big screen (in only his 3rd directing gig) he decided to make the ending different from the novel.  Many loyal ‘Watchmen’ fanboys think that this is blasphemy, and while Synder keeps a small portion of the Squid from the comics:

“One, if you want to know about the squid – well, he makes a small appearance. If you notice, [Dr. Manhattan’s] reactor is actually called the Sub Quantum Unifying Intrinsic Device. You see that sign [with the S.Q.U.I.D. acronym] if you look carefully in Adrian’s [lair]; it’s in the consoles, and it’s also behind the thing when it gets teleported.”

This simply is a dealbreaker for anyone who is a raving fan of the movie, and just another reason this movie is going to suck.

In the minds of most fans, this film may be the most faithful transition from page to screen of any comic book movie done to date. The original story is widely acknowledged as a classic, not only in comic book circles, but in the literary ones as well. How well will a movie-going public unfamiliar with this story receive this visually stunning work? Only time will tell.

And the clock is ticking.

Leave a Comment

  1. Beth Bridges says:

    As a fan of Science Fiction and the original Watchmen graphic novels, your post only made me want to see it more. But I can see how this might not appeal to other movie goers. Let's hope that word of mouth can help launch the movie.

  2. BarryBoom says:

    "*Spoiler Alert* The ending of Watchmen is what really makes it stand out as a tale and blows the minds of everyone who has ever read the graphic novel…."

    The ending of Watchmen only blow your mind away if all you read are comic books. The concept of the ending was already done twice before Alan Moore stole it.

  3. Amos Kitto says:

    I don't give a fuck about comic books.

    The movie looks great, and does what I want it to do, entertain me for an hour or so.


  4. gygiu says:

    You are a waste of html.

  5. Asahi says:

    You forgot the fact that
    A) this movie is unfilmable
    B) Snyder is a complete hack

    I am *praying* this movie bombs.

  6. Tercotta says:

    it not being a squid means nothing. Gibbons himself has described as the same trick with a different gimmick. Far more crucial is the lack of dead bodies lying around New York. It's far less powerful without it.

  7. ScreenRant says:

    "The fact that the movie is rated “R” is almost irrelevant, as the story was not meant for children either in its original incarnation or in this one."

    Um, what? It's rated R so that parents will know not to bring their kids. How is anyone unfamiliar with the source material supposed to know that "the story was not meant for children?"

    Give me a break, dude.

  8. Anonymous says:

    GTFO my internet.

  9. I hope you are wrong…

  10. Drod says:

    Films that expect to make "statements" are usually for the sub-subculture of true fans. Mean Streets, Night of the Living Dead, and Fando y Lis, for example. The Watchmen definitely has something to say

  11. Twitch says:

    Well, on all but two of your points (the Moral Ambiguity and Ending), the exact thing could be said about "300", Snyder's last big hit.

    Buzz alone drove that movie to box office sales. People had more than likely never heard of the graphic novel before the movie came out, the actors were unknown, and, unless you're a classic movie or history buff, you probably had never heard about Thermopylae, so the fact that it was based around a historical event didn't help, either.

    People lined up because it looked exciting, and they hype around it.

    Anyway, I have no way of knowing if this will be a financial success, but, either way, I'm going to see it, and save all judgement until after I see it.

  12. i can't wait too see this movies.

  13. shokk says:

    What you think of the movie will have no bearing on what I think of it. It was coincidence that some of you like “300” when I also did. But if i like it, I hope this will be a hit so that Snyder can make more.

  14. recession says:

    comic book nerds do not support these movies anyway, they download them

  15. hypocrisy says:

    the comments here are getting flooded by quote on quote idiots, not pertaining facts. Zak Snyder is a complete and utter hack, this is his motive "put it in slow motion, it'll look good" he is not a fan of comics, seeing as he is doing watchmen and he has done 300, which 300 in its all was a baaad movie next to Dawn of the Dead remake he did. He ruined the poster for the movie "from the visionary direc of 300", what the fuck?

    Also, to the guy who said its rated "r" so that children wont see it. In this day and age no one gives a fuck. They changed the ending from a squid to a nuke, and it makes no sense. the squid ending made sense due to it being "alien"in nature so that the humans will join up and kill off aliens, a nuke will just make the story fucked up. Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore might seppuku when they see they have saw someone made a mockery of their work.

  16. Kaeos Jones says:

    Just got back from seeing Watchmen and the simple fact is – most of the nay-sayers are simply writing their own self fulfilling prophesy here. The film is excellent. I am a hard core fan of the original comics and graphic novel and I can say the the movie ending simply makes more sense. Its an improvement. To leave the comic ending in place would have left general audiences scratching their heads as if to say – where the heck did that come from? The character development and interaction are rich and fascinating an d the action sequences are probably the most realistc I have ever seen.

    If you've already decided that the film will suck, then why bother seeing it? Much more why bother commenting on it? You've made up your mind, you decided to be closed minded and no matter how good this film or any film is, it will only live up to the expectations YOU have made for it. For the sarcastic trolls – go see Paul Blart. Thats your kind of movie, this one makes you "think" too much and you might be a brain boo boo.

  17. Amos Kitto says:

    Told ya, you damn comic Book nerd. Watchmen > dark knight

    Hollywood/the majority of people don't give a fuck about comics

  18. jabotham says:

    Props to Kaeos Jones.

    The logic of most conversations about Watchmen is inherently flawed; It assumes that there can only be a degradation of the original story. In this dialogue, the best the movie can achieve is “as good as” the book.

    I think that kaoes exposed a new element of analysis. It allows a full range of motion for the movie – it can be worse, as good as, or even better than the book. While there are multiple planes on which to analyze each production, I agree that the ending was an IMPROVEMENT on the original. I will submit, however, that eliminating certain elements of the book when adapting it to the screen enabled Snyder to adjust the ending.

    One way or another, it is worth seeing…fan or not.

  19. Jezebel says:

    Well, since Watchmen had a huge opening is now officialy a great success, the writer of this article has been proven ingnorant and out of touch. A good movie too and I’m sure the director’s cut of the film will also sell tons of Dvds. And yes, I have the first editions of the original comics so I know what they changed and it wasnt enough to make the movie suck, it was pretty good. All hail the Blue penis.

  20. MiloPo says:

    How does it feel to be completely wrong? Also, If you still think the movie is unfilmable you're a fucking idiot. It's been filmed. It's over. You lost. The movie is great and so far everyone (who's opinion matters) likes it. You all need to get over it. It's not like Watchmen is "God's Holy Word", which has also been filmed.

  21. shokk says:

    Saw it, loved it, suck it. Watchmen > Dark Knight.

  22. Srtm says:

    I loved the movie, I felt it was great at replicating what the novel wanted to say and I think it made relatively intelligent audiences less skeptical to the use of comics as an art form, I know many people who want to read the novel after watching it and that is always a good sign. also the movie already made aprox. 16 million more than its budget so at the very least it was "sustainble cultural development" by the studios. my only personal complaint is that they did not delve more into the character of adrian veidt, practically skipping most of chapter 11, I think the ball of hashish could've have been great, hopefully we'll see some of that in the extended cut

  23. Qhad says:

    It's official, this article was correct. The movie sucked, and bombed, as expected.

    Word of mouth and a big blue penis killed Watchmen.

    Maybe they'll release a loincloth version in DVD, it would make more than the theatrical run did.