Watchmen Gets Shorter

Published 6 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 7:18 am,

watchmen insignia time Watchmen Gets ShorterIt’s about time for another Watchmen update! Speaking of time, Zack and Deborah Snyder told SCI FI Wire that the film’s final length is getting shorter.

Though WB has not approved the new length, producer Deborah Snyder said “we’re getting really close” during a telephone interview. “We’re at two hours and 35 minutes.” Zack added “The movie’s pretty long… compared to ’300,’ which was an hour and 58 minutes. The director’s cut [of Watchmen] is about three hours and 10 minutes long. It has even more than the theatrical version, as far as the detail that gets even closer to the graphic novel.

2 hours and 35 minutes! That’s it?

If Zack is trying to be faithful to the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon graphic novel, as a movie this complex story would be around 3.5 hours long, if not four.

Watchmen is a graphic novel that uses a comic within a comic, as well as various excerpts, to tell its narrative. Zack is trying desperately to include those details to fully flesh-out all of these characters, but realistically we may have to do without some of the pieces.

Tales of the Black Freighter, which Zack has shot as an animated version, is envisioned as a separate DVD release–coinciding with Watchmen‘s theatrical debut. I’m led to believe we won’t be seeing much of the Black Freighter in the theatrical release with this piece of news. That, and the following quote from Zack:

The ‘Black Freighter’ version of the movie that we’re working on–which has the ins and outs of the ‘Black Freighter’ comic book woven through it, with an animated version of the ‘Black Freighter’–will be about three hours and 40 minutes… So there’s a huge epic version of ‘Watchmen,’ which will probably come out after the movie’s theatrical release, for hardcore [fans].

3 hours and 40 minutes!… That’s more like it.

Fans of the graphic novel know that throughout the course of the story, a minor character is seen reading ‘Marooned.’ The is a comic book within the comic book about a stranded seaman and his desperate attempt to reach his home ahead of the Black Freighter pirates who wrecked his ship; Moore, in his genius, uses the story to foreshadow the events of the overall story arc. So how much are we losing?

tales black freighter Watchmen Gets Shorter
A panel from “Tales of the Black Freighter”

Although I haven’t seen the movie yet (something Warner Bros. can fix immediately, *hint hint*), I am in favor of cuts so long as the Black Freighter isn’t entirely removed and as long as the characters remain intact. So many panels and text have been devoted to Tales of the Black Freighter, it would be a shame if audiences weren’t encouraged to go deeper into the story. Nudging viewers to go so far as to pick up the actual graphic novel is not a high-brow request.

I’m not, however, in favor of cutting the autobiography Under the Hood or case files for Rorschach, etc; I believe a longer running time is preferred, so long as more story is being told.

The Dark Knight clocked in at 2 hours and 32 minutes, and I ended up wanting more. I think Nolan would’ve done an even better job if he didn’t shave some of the beats and dialogue, properly closing some of the scenes and extending the action would have been beneficial as well. Having read the full script, like any good film student, what we lost wasn’t anything groundbreaking but it further shaped the character’s ideas and point of view. This, in turn, layered the story and fleshed out the entire cast. Though the characters remain intact, their juxtaposition with one another is downplayed to some lesser degree. Arguably, those added details could have improved the story.

So what’s on the Watchmen‘s cutting room floor? I don’t know, but I hope it’s not a part of the story I loved reading.

What do you think? Should a theatrical release choose running time over substance?

Watchmen is (still) scheduled to open on March 6, 2009.

TAGS: Watchmen
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  1. I loved TDK but I felt it was about half an hour too long.

    For people for aren’t already familiar with Watchmen I think trimming the time is a good idea. I WILL be buying a dvd of Watchmen about 10 seconds after it hits the shelf , so Mr. Snyder can make that version as long as he wants :)

  2. I agree with RastaZen, I think TDK was a little bit too long, but it was because there were scenes that werent necessary.

  3. I thought TDK felt long as well, but don’t ask me what I would have cut. :-)

    Actually there are some movies that are long but don’t FEEL long at all. If it can keep me engaged all the way through and avoid the deadly moment where I suddenly feel the need to look at my watch, then I don’t care if it’s 3 hours long. 8-)


  4. Hasent it been rumored that it would probably be about 2 hours and 30 minutes for months now?
    This isnt really a surprise is it ?
    As long as is not something ridiculous like 1 hour and 40 minutes or something like that,
    I will give it a shot .

  5. Having not read the Watchmen, but seeing the Trailers and reading about it wherever I can, I have to say I am excited to see this one. And as long as the story and acting keep me involoved and interested, I really don’t care how long they make it, besides which if an extended cut of any film is released, I make it a point to see it.
    As for TDK I really did not notice its tme length, I alsmost felt it was too short at the end, I really wanted to see more of The Joker, and Two Face. You can’t go wrong with blowing up Rachael Dawes, though I sadiscally kind of wis that Katie Holmes had returned just for that. But alas I have to watch Maggie Glyenthal get blown up instead, a bit of a travesty if you ask me.

  6. @RastaZen, @Vic, @Oscar!

    You guys felt it was long? Do you remember what parts?

    There were moments, that I didn’t want to move from. Specifically, cutting Harvey Dent silent scream and the Batpod’s arrival/playing chicken with “(s)Laughter is the best medicine” truck was not properly built, there’s a beat before both of those and to some it may have felt forced or thrown in.

  7. If I recall, right about the time they went to the boats on the harbor it started to feel like “isn’t this over yet?” to me (my wife mentioned the same thing to me after seeing the film).


  8. I Think TDK could have done without what i call the Temptation scenes at the docks.
    All this Will they or wont they stuff with the Detonators.
    i was thinking ,
    Just catch the guy already!

  9. My school of thought when comes to the length of movies is a good movie can never be to long and bad movie can be to short. Alan more can very verbose and make a story so fine that it becomes boring. Ultimately I’ll have to wait and see the movie but this seems like a good decision.

  10. Yeah, Watchmen definitely needs to be at least 3 hours long. To be honest, I can do without the “black freighter” stuff (fire away!), but the Rorshach and “Under the hood” bits MUST be there. Rorshach was my fave character in the book. :-D

    They need to make that GL script longer, or really extend the fight scenes, IMO….

    Kinda surprised that they changed Ozymanias’ costume so much, but that’s movies. I’m really anxious to see if they can pull this off, I’m of the opinion that the book is rather unfilmable, but the trailers looked great so far.