Why Watchmen Will $ucceed

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 7:23 am,

watchmen final imax poster full Why Watchmen Will $ucceed

[NOTE: This is not a review. If you're looking for a critical opinion on Watchmen, you can check out the excellent review by Screen Rant's own Vic Holtreman by going here.]

This week, many so-called critics around The Net have been lending their opinion on the subject of Watchmen, which officially opens in theaters today, amidst much hype and a bit of legal controversy. As each new critic has logged their opinion of the film, I’ve been watching those who’ve been watching Watchmen, and let’s just say I’ve come away with a few axes in need of some serious grinding.

Time to put the “rant” back into Screen Rant.

Now opinions are opinions. Everyone is entitled to theirs–you won’t find me fighting that uphill battle here, or anywhere else for that matter.

Truth be told, after seeing the movie earlier this week, I agree with what most critics have said about Watchmen. It is NOT perfect; it IS uneven at points; not all the actors step up to their roles; and the debate about Zack Snyder’s stylistic approach to the film will long be argued after I’m around to care anymore.

So let’s be clear: this is not some fanboy rant about why everybody in the world has to get down on their knees and worship Watchmen. Believe me when I tell you: I am not a part of that club.

However, I do have a serious problem with some of the critical responses to Watchmen that I’ve been seeing–the ones that go beyond the film itself, talking about why it’s destined for failure before the first box office receipts have been tallied.

I mean, I know it’s a recession right now, but have people really resorted to smoking crack this quickly?

I’d like to offer this friendly counterpoint: Watchmen is not going to fail. Watchmen is going to be a $uccess. And even after the dust from the film dies down, the public is going to revere Watchmen more than ever. And here, my friends, is why:

THE HYPE MACHINE

It’s never about whether or not you believe the hype. All that matters is that you recognize it. That you’re curious about it. That you talk about it, think about it or simply show the slightest bit of interest in what’s behind the hype. Right now, there are many, many people out there who are curious about Watchmen. I’m talking about the people who don’t already know all about it, or claim the graphic novel as their official religion. I’m talking about my mother, my girlfriend–I’m pretty sure my grandmother, too. The hype team over at Warner Bros.’ marketing dept has done its job well. Watchmen has penetrated the collective consciousness and been diffused into the cultural discourse. Alan Moore, welcome to the mainstream.

watchmen graphic novel Why Watchmen Will $ucceed

THE FAME FACTOR

Marketing isn’t everything. Normally, a successful marketing campaign just means that the bean counters at the studio have a good barometer for opening weekend numbers. But Watchmen is different. This is a graphic novel that was already a cultural phenomenon, long before a film adaptation ever got off the ground. Granted, it was pretty much a geek culture phenomenon, but that’s now a fact of the past. This film, and all the hype surrounding it, have managed to catapult Watchmen to pop culture heights (shallow as they may be) previously thought impossible for a comic book.

The proof is in the sales figures: ever since the first trailer for the movie dropped, the Watchmen graphic novel has been flying off of shelves. A whole new audience has been initiated into the Watchmen-lovers club, and their curiosity doesn’t end with the last panel of the graphic novel: it ends in a movie seat. And though there is definitely a large percentage of the public who still don’t care about the comic, a large percentage of that percentage (people like my mom, my girlfriend, my grandmother) are equally curious about what all the hoopla over “The Watchmen” is about. Their curiosity also ends in a movie seat. (And who knows, maybe after seeing the movie some of those “uninterested” people will want to pick up the graphic novel.)

THE TIMING

Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. learned well from the example of 300: they learned that early March can be fertile ground for launching a blockbuster flick. 300 earned $70.9 million in its opening weekend, and that turnout was largely based on the “cool impression” the movie made on moviegoers. Add to that the fact that there was little competition being offered at the box office when 300 hit theaters, and the payoffs become as obvious as a fifth grade lesson on supply and demand.

Well once again we find ourselves in early March–and once again, there’s little being offered at the box office now that another drama-heavy Oscars season has wrapped. The public is ready for a good popcorn blockbuster, and Watchmen has definitely been sold as that, even if it isn’t. Expect the film to cash in heavy on moviegoer’s lack of options. And it won’t be a one weekend flash-in-the pan either: the only movies that have a chance of stealing Watchmen‘s thunder don’t get released for another two weeks. That’s plenty of time to make a box office killing.

THE RECESSION

A lot of the box office low-ballers are failing to account for what is unique about this particular time in place we’re in. The economy is in the toilet right now; people are suffering all kinds of frugality-inspired boredom, if only to save that extra buck. Compared to the cost of a night out on the town, a trip to the movies is suddenly not looking so expensive. And a trip to the movies to see one of the most highly anticipated, most talked about movies of the year, is a no-brainer. Rated R or not, expect Watchmen to be THE weekend event for just about any group or couple (after all, ladies love a naked blue man) who can get their hands on tickets.

comedian silk spectre Why Watchmen Will $ucceed

THE FORBIDDEN ALLURE OF THE R RATING

Every time a kick-ass-looking movie gets slapped with an R rating, people swear it means box office death for that movie. 300 was rated R. The Matrix was rated R. The Matrix sequels (gag) were rated R. R RATINGS DO NOT A MOVIE KILL. If the underage crowd wants in, they’ll find a way in. They’ll con unwary parents into  going with them, or at least get them to shill out for the tickets. Or maybe they’ll just convince the could-give-a-rat’s-ass box office clerk to sell them the tickets sans ID check. There is no black-ops task force out there keeping kids from getting into violent movies. Expect the PG-13 crowd to be in attendance.

WORD OF MOUTH

Watchmen is good. It is by no means great–but it is by no means terrible, either. The critical reaction is the best reflection of this, averaging out to roughly a 50/50 love/hate ratio, depending on if you’re looking at a site like Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes. For a public that is currently fixated on Watchmen, that means that regardless of whether the overriding verdict is positive or negative, there is still enough opposing opinion to motivate an “undecided” out to the theater to check out the film for themselves, if only to cast their vote on the subject. Curiosity might be hell on cats, but it’s box office heaven for the movie biz.

ADVANCED TICKET SALES

This is one area where I don’t even have to speculate. As of now, sites like Fandango are reporting that Watchmen is outpacing 300 in advance ticket sales. The film has also set a record for the highest theater-count ever for an R-rated movie, debuting in 3,611 theaters. 1,600 theaters will hold midnight showings of the film; those midnight showings sold out so fast here in the New York City area that 12:10, 12:20, 12:30 and 12:40 showings had to be added to the roster. Oh no, sounds like a recipe for disaster! (Sarcasm alert!)

watchmen group photo Why Watchmen Will $ucceed

Hurrmm… I look over this point-by-point list and I can see that Watchmen has absolutely NOTHING going in its favor. The film is totally poised to be, as Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter so wisely called it, “the first real flop of 2009.” Good call there, Kirkster. (Double sarcasm alert!)

Seriously though, I’m getting a little fed up with these critics who have their heads so close up to the movie screen they seem to miss what’s going on beyond the screening room, in the theater of the public. Watchmen is our cultural fixation of the moment–but that fascination won’t last long. I realize that. However, the Watchmen craze WILL last long enough for Snyder and Warner Bros. (and Fox) to turn a very pretty profit for all their hard work, distilling Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ great achievement into mass consumptive form.

And when Watchmen is a $uccess–when all the critics and naysayers look up and scream, “How did it happen?” I will look down and whisper, “Dummies.”

OFFICIAL PREDICTION: $70-80 million opening weekend, and that’s a conservative estimate. Slight drop-off in the second week, but nowhere near as drastic as some of these so-called analysts are predicting. High domestic gross; high international gross. Snyder and Co. will definitely be able to mark this film in the “win” column. Poor Alan Moore might never be the same again, now that he’s become a household name.

If you’re going to see Watchmen this weekend, from all of us here at Screen Rant, ENJOY!

Then come back here and tell us what you really thought about it.

Sources: Slash Film, Coming Soon, io9, The Hollywood (so-called) Reporter, Metacritic & Rotten Tomatoes

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  1. Just returned from the midnight showing.

    While it’s not a perfect movie, it’s exactly what I wanted. A few moments of pure, concentrated, “just-what-the-doctor-ordered” action, coupled with a story that can be atleast called “engaging,” not to mention the definite geek-factor of chomping at the bit to see it.

    As it stands, time will tell of the future of The Watchmen, but know this: It classifies as being a “damn good movie,” possibly made better by DVD sales with a less convoluted story and certain, necessary omissions returned to their rightful place.

    To answer the question on the worlds lips, Who watches the Watchmen? The answer is simple: “We do.”

  2. Back home after the midnight showing and breakfast with some friends where the movie was of course what we mostly talked about, lol.

    It was decent, not incredible by any stretch, but entertaining enough, yes maybe a little long, but it wasn’t bad. I was both expecting more but also expecting to stink at the same time…if thats possible. I guess more hopeful than expecting it to be more.

    I won’t be seeing it again at the movies but I’m sure I’ll buy the DVD when it comes out 4-5 months from now.

  3. I also saw the midnight showing last night. (I was one of those that ran out and bought the GN after the first trailer).

    It wasn’t an awesome film, but it was good. I probably won’t see it again, unless my daughter wants to view it.

    And yeah, it should make a ton of money this weekend…

  4. Probably will go see it tonight. I don’t think there was a midnight showing here (even so, I was way too tired to go).

    It will likely make a lot of money, with or without the R rating. Although my 16 year old brother (who is VERY innocent in nature) doesn’t want to see it, I’m not missing out.

    NYC sounds fun. Wish I was there.

  5. Saw the midnight showing, went to sleep at four and then woke up for class at eight.
    Feeling great right now.
    I thought it was a great movie in the end, but it did have some parts that I questions (did anyone else feel almost all the music was too cheesy and most of the time out of context?).
    I probably will see it in theaters again with my friends since my only ride last night was with people I didn’t know.

  6. Perhaps with Watchmen, after repeated viewings many will find it to be the absolutely incredible. Whereas, for some films when you watch it the first time, it is mind-blowing but then, afte a repeat viewing, it is not so much. The film loses it’s punch and excitement.
    That is how I felt for Transformers (duh) and, yes, even the precious TDK.

  7. Watchmen will have a big opening weekend, there has been so much buzz surrounding it and there is no competition at all like V for Vendetta a few years back. The question is will is take to week 2-3?

  8. @SK47
    I have to agree about repeated viewings of those 2 films. I was blown away by the special effects in Transformers and bought the DVD. When I watched it again, I just thought how bad the acting was. For TDK, I was again blown away and went to see it again. On a second viewing, I was actually kind of bored.

  9. Same for me John, although I was not totally blown away by TDK, I was pleased that they upped the previous film! On second viewing for me it was, “yeah yeah, lets get on with it”, “well duh he’s the Dark Knight. If Harvey was the White Knight, then he has to be the Black Knight, excuse me, Dark Knight.”
    I actually have a name for this, The Jurassic Park-syndrome. All goes back to what Laura Dern says while having Ice cream in the first movie. “I was amazed by this place, but then I realized what you are doing is wrong” Something like that but it holds true to Transformers and TDK, for me that is. I still like the opening Bank scene, it is a great starting point, and the chase scene, but then everything else for me it was like, eh, whatever.

  10. Wow guys, great points.

    I actually watch Transformers and TDK in bits in pieces alot. Transformers is just pure mindless fun to watch, but TDK, the more I watch that film the more I feel like almost every scene of it is perfectly rendered. I doubt I will like a movie that much for another decade or so, but it still is good for me.

    Watchmen, I do think that certain choices Snyder made detract from the cinematic experience. The Comedian’s funeral scene is the best example of that. Ozy, Manhattan and Nite Owl all have their flashbacks occur during the funeral. But much of what occurs in those flashbacks felt flat and didn’t resonate b/c it was too early in the film for them to have impact. As a filmmaker, I would have spread those flashbacks out across the film and had the characters remember them at key moments–like Nite Owl’s flashback, “What happened to the American Dream?” That should’ve occurred when he’s standing naked, about to re-don the suit for the first time. That would’ve followed the proper cinematic logic, IMHO.

  11. First off

    @Joshua
    I thought the music fit perfectly, Bob Dylan was the voice of the american population and was still in this movie (The Times Are A Changin’, All Along The Watchtower, Desolation Row).

    In my opinion this was one of the best movies i ve seen in a while and both its accuracies and inaccuracies fit very well in the movie and reminded me of the well put together Rob Reiner movies based off books (Princess Bride, Stand By Me)

    Lastly this movie had the perfect equation for teenage movie goers, like myself. Action+Plot+Sex+Humor+Totaly Bad Ass Main Characters

    well, there’s my opinion

  12. @ Michael

    Thanks for backing me up on the teen angle, bro!

  13. “And when Watchmen is a $uccess–when all the critics and naysayers look up and scream, “How did it happen?” I will look down and whisper, “Dummies.””

    OMG!!! ROTFLMAO!!!! That was great!! :D

    Kofi, THIS is your best post yet!! :D

    I totally agree with ya, man. I had to get my frikkin’ photo ID updated to see this. All though they should just let me in cuz I’ve read the book (and am 18, of course).

    As for the critics…I don’t think some of them “get” the movie, and would probably not “get” the book either. Who was that one critic jackhole who had some beef with Doc Manhattan going to Mars? That was in the book, and done quite well, IMO, when critics pick apart stuff like that, it really makes me think they just don’t “get” it. And I guess Rorshach’s views are enough to put a lot of the liberal so called “intellectual” critics into a seizure.

    Anyway…I see this movie tomorrow sometime, I can’t wait.

    And Vic’s review was excellent. :-D

  14. KEL,

    Thanks man. You have to check back in tomorrow and let me know what you thought about the flick!

  15. Well I just got home from the Watchmen and I really am speechless…not in a good way or a bad way..just totally speechless…I honestly have no opinion whatsoever on the film. The theater I was in was 2/3 full..there was never much response from the audience on anything except when Rorschach says “2-0″ and one scene at the end..AT least six people left after certain graphic violent parts…I was left true neutral for the film..neither despising it nor liking it..I am absolutely astounded by my reaction..I really did enjoy Rorschach’s character…I am hoping that the Director’s cut and the Director’s Cut DVD can elicit more of a response..as I type this I think I am starting to get it and I think it just felt incomplete to me for some reason..C’est La Vie I suppose..

    Oh and Vic I totally get the Cult vibe you were speaking of earlier..that’s how it will probably be seen in a few years as more of a cult status film…I guess I had to see it to see that point..

  16. i just saw the film i loved it, then again ive read the novel like 70-sumthin times.
    but i loved jackie earl haley performance as Rorschach. he nailed it and one of my fav scene in both the novel and the film Of course the Psych evaluation interrigation where the psyciatrist asks him what he sees and he sees a Dog with the Tore up Head and he says “a Pretty butterfly”.
    complete and total Nerdgasam.
    i loved the film and i Can not Wait 4 the director’s cut with the Black Fraighter integrated into the film.

    (its sad im more Excited about the DVD Realese that is sooooo Far away, than the film i just watched.)
    Lol

  17. 25 million from Friday’s Box Office not too bad I guess.. :)

  18. I totally agree with Greenknight. The movie just left me thinking about what I just saw. My date felt the same way. It looked good and had good scenes in it, but I cannot call it a good movie. It is interesting with some cool scenes in it. A little too abstract and the ending felt forced and too abstract for me to enjoy at the same time. And I hated the music choices. They took me out of what I was seeing. Rorshach was way cool. Nite owl was good too. But they were the only characters I cared about. Huge blue deity doesn’t care about humanity, why would I care about him? Too abstract a character to identify with for me.

  19. I’m guessing a $60-65 million opening. Next week though, it wil tail off. It’s length and lack of very many sympathetic characters will hurt it. I’m seeing a 60% drop off next week. I see $150 million total for this film.

  20. @ greenknight

    I saw the movie about 8 hours ago.

    My wife (who didn’t know the comics in advance) liked the film. Especially for it’s “different-ness”.

    Me … I am as neutral as you are.
    And equally amazed by that fact.

    I like A LOT about the film, dislike some other aspects, but all in all … I can not give a “thumbs up” or “down” .

    I just can’t.

    Lets wait and let the movie sink in, shall we? :-D

  21. Dudes,

    Neutral was the exact way I felt!

    It’s so freaking weird! The movie…just is. It is what it is. Every time I started looking at the exit a scene came a long to pull me back in. Soon as I was hyped about a scene, something happened to pull me back out.

    And in the end I want more: the director’s cut, the “ultimate cut” with the black freighter scenes…

    This movie is playing with my mind, man!

  22. The movie itself is like a Rorschach blot! “What do you see?”

    A pretty butterfly? Or a dog with its head split open?

  23. @ DAvid Hasselbach & ppnkof

    That feeling is so strange especially since I love the book, loved the promotional material and trailers..again I am just stunned by it..My brother asked me should he see it as he hasn’t read the book and I told him that he had to decide for himself because I couldn’t tell him if he should see it or not..I’s nice to see that I wasn’t the only one left with that feeling..Definitely had it’s good parts, I thought Malin AKerman’s performance was a little wooden but Rorschach absolutely rocked..uncompromising to the bitter end..

    Let’s hope the Director’s Cut gives us a more profound feeling, something I was hoping to get from the theatrical version..I really do believe that the missing Black Freighter story arc took something away from the film..I thought Matthew Goode did a very respectable job as Veidt..brilliant yet emotionally detached, exactly how someone that intelligent should come across as they are unable to relate to the rest of us..he was a lot like Manhattan in that way with Manhattan having the power to create anyhting he could think of, Veidt could do the same except it took alot more time and resources on his part.. The ending was fine with me even though it was altered from the book because after seeing the film is they had kept the original ending it would have seemded like it was way too over the top. I think it was brilliant the way they did end because

    ****MAJOR SPOILER ALERT****

    With Manhattan taking the fall he basically assumes the role of god in the world with people banding together to try and make the world a better place..The world is AFRAID that MAnhattan is watching so they all try harder…sounds very similar to our concept of God and armageddon..we obey we have peace we disobey we are destroyed.I just thought that was a brilliant way to change the ending from the book yet make it very realistic and relateable to a large potion of people.

    CHeers

  24. Now you guys understand why I had so much angst over writing the review!

    Vic

  25. I had never read the book(s) but the first trailer really grabbed my attention. Just got back from seeing it. I have mixed feelings about some of the creative decisions that were made. I agree that some things may have been under-explained so, yeah, they may be on a cutting room floor somewhere—but that would make me think that they should have immediately considered spreading the story over two films, perhaps separated by 6 months or a year like LOTR. That way the emotional impacts of each segment wold remain intact. Also, in this post-Gollum era, I would have thought that cgi would be further along than what was used for Dr. Manhatten.

  26. @ McCoy

    Dr. Manhattan looked liked they painted the actor blue, slapped some white lenses on his eyes and lightened up his image afterwards on film.
    Nothing short of incredible that it’s purely CGI.
    What did YOU expect?

  27. @ Knightrider Man (above)

    The rendering was fine…and top-notch. Dr. Manhattan’s movements were less impressive with most of the mouth movements being the weakest.

  28. In LOTR, the audience can focus on Gollums eyes—and they are very real in appearance. With Dr. Manhattan, I was not so focused on his eyes (of course) and instead focused on the mouth—which as it turns out is the weakest animation.

  29. Kofi owes me a beer.

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