Zack Snyder Talks ‘Watchmen’ Box Office & The Director’s Cut

Published 6 years ago by , Updated August 22nd, 2013 at 3:44 pm,

Although certainly not a box office failure, Zack Snyder’s graphic novel adaptation Watchmen did perform a lot worse than people were hoping and expecting. It had a solid but not-as-good-as-it-could-have-been $55MM opening weekend, dropped by almost 70% in its second weekend, and a month later it has only made $104MM in the US ($172MM worldwide).

Was it the R-rating? The 160-plus minute runtime? The violence? The hard efforts of Snyder to keep close to the source material at every point and turn (some would say far too closely)?

We’ll never know for sure.

Recently, while accepting his 2009 Director of the Year Award at ShoWest, Snyder had the box office disappointment brought up, and gave his thoughts on how this would affect the possible theatrical release of the Director’s Cut of the film:

“The thing about Watchmen is it’s a lot of craziness. It’s a long movie, it’s rated R. Everyone is talking about Monsters vs. Aliens, which is a cool movie, comes out and makes like $58 million and everyone is like, ‘Oh my god, it’s the hugest hit ever!’ And then a R-rated movie, two and a half hours long with superheroes raping each other makes $55 million dollars and every-one’s like ‘WHAT?’ How is that possible? I’m pretty happy with the movie”

“We’re super proud of the movie, the director’s cut is coming soon. So in July you’ll get to see more ‘Watchmen.’ If you didn’t have enough in two hours and forty minutes you’ll have three hours and ten minutes, and I think there is three hours and thirty minutes coming so they’ll be a lot more Watchmen to come, regardless of how people feel about it.”

When asked about the three-plus hour version of the film, Snyder said:

“I think that’s still happening. I think they’re still going to do a limited run of it, or they’re still talking about it anyway.”

I can kind of see where Snyder is coming from when he talks about the box office results. Although it was disappointing in the sense that we fans so badly wanted it not only to be a great film, but also to be as financially successful as it deserves to be. But for the type of the film that it is, with all the stuff it has in it – extreme violence, swearing, sex, murder – it did very solidly.

It would be wise for Warner Bros. to release the Director’s Cut theatrically – if nothing else they can capitalize on those who liked and love the film. In this case I don’t think the fans would mind being taken advantage of (money-wise) if it means getting an extended cut of Watchmen.

Do you think they should release the Watchmen Director’s Cut theatrically or just leave it for the DVD/Blu-ray release? Do you consider the film to be a box-office disappointment?

Source: /Film

TAGS: Watchmen
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  1. I would gladly pay for the theatrical release of a directors cut, as im sure many fan boys would too. I thought the movie in its original form was decent, there were things that could have been better, but there always will be things like that. I’m excited for the release of the directors cut and will probably pick it up on blu-ray when it comes out.

  2. It amazes me how these guys don’t even understand there own industry. Monsters VS Aliens will have legs. Watchmen had none. I liked Watchmen alot but the box-office comparisons and Synder’s statement don’t jive. He isn’t being honest about that or he just isn’t getting it. Plus overseas Watchmen did awful.


  3. before it came out i predicted that it would make less than 150 million dollars and i was right. This isnt Snyder fault. Nobody new about watchman 2 years ago and its made way different than every other superhero, vigilante movie.

  4. I love comic book movies, always have and always will, but something about Watchmen didn’t make it seem like a can’t miss in the theater experience for me. I like movies I see in the theater to run under 2 hours, after that I get antsy (and usually have to use the restroom from the gallon “small” soft drink). I will watch Watchmen, but only after it’s out on DVD and I can pause it if I need to.

  5. loved the theatrical, so bring on the director’s cut

  6. So question for those out there who didn’t like the movie as much as the book, what was your main complaint?

  7. could have been done better as two seperate films.

  8. Jeff – the ending, mate! I’ve now seen it twice (once in IMAX) and I suppose I’m slightly better disposed towards it now than the first time around. Although, perversely, I would actually pay money again to see a theatrical release of a director’s cut with Tales Of The Black Freighter just to make it worthwile, the changed essence of the new ending just doesn’t work for me. The whole film exerts a horrid fascination though: like a sore tooth you can’t stop touching with your tongue…

  9. I say release the director’s cut in the theaters. I don’t care how long it is. Wanna make it 4 hours Zack? Go for it. I’ll watch.

  10. Dentist, i completely agree. The ending just kind of made me WTF. It just didn’t hold up to logical thought if you thought about it for more than a minute. The original ending was fantastic and worked with the story, and the squid would have been amazing to see on the screen.

  11. If Snyder is happy with the films performance ,
    what is he complaining about ?
    There isnt a director on the planet who is GUARANTEED a positive response from the public to their movie .

  12. Ross, “We’ll never know for sure?”..

    What are you talking about!? Read the reviews of the critics and especially the comments of those who saw it. Especially the fans.

    There are those who love all things comic, sci-fi and fantasy but also who are done with extreme and gratuitous violence and sex in the interest of story telling.
    I’m one of those people and the numbers are saying I’m not the only one.
    I was REALLY looking forward to seeing it but after reading Vic’s review on this site and others..
    I passed and so did 70% of the movie population the second week. (adjusted for inflation)
    And I have no desire to even rent it.

    Also, Regardless of how much a movie makes or even should make, a 70% drop in sales in the second week is disastrous by anybody’s reckoning.

  13. Also, “But for the type of the film that it is, with all the stuff it has in it – extreme violence, swearing, sex, murder – it did very solidly.”

    How is a 70% drop in the second week and only $104 mil, “very solid”?

    And when has a movie that has had a drop like that ever been re-released theatrically let alone in a Directors Cut?
    (I’m still waiting for The Dark Knight-Directors Cut to make it back to IMAX.)

  14. if you think about it,when the last time the r-rated film receive more than 100millions.if zack make watchmen pg-13,then this movie will make more money.

  15. @JessSayin’:

    When I said “we’ll never know for sure,” I was talking about the wider audience who saw the film. Sure we can look at people’s thoughts on what they liked and didn’t like from critics reviews and fans opinions on the web, but that only represents a section of those who saw it. What about the others?

    And I wasn’t saying it was solid as a general film being released (we hoped and expected it to do MUCH better, as I said in my post) but just for a film with that type of semi-extreme stuff in it. WE may like/not mind seeing that stuff on-screen, but you can’t deny A LOT of people DON’T.

    And I’m not sure when another film that had a second weekend drop like that got a re-release, but in the case of Watchmen, as I said in my post, they will release it at a limited capacity and capitalize on those of us who DID like it.

  16. I thought the films ending allowed for much tighter story. The execution of it seemed slightly rushed though. The identity of the bad guy was hinted at too much during the course of the film. The casting of Carla Gugino as an older Sally Jupiter was a bad decision. The soundtrack was overwhelmingly loud and in some places bad. Alot of my favourite part were left out, such as the killing of a secondary character and the fact that the police were pursuing a couple of other characters.

    These small qualms aside Zak Snyder did a great job and made a good movie but I suppose it’s tiny personal touches like that which make the graphic novel so great and personal to so many. Had he left much of this in, the film would run closer to 5 hours.

  17. I think the film would have been monumentally better if it were say an HBO miniseries. Imagine that, 12 1 hour long episodes, uncut, raw. It would have been easily one of the greatest miniseries ever. Here’s to hoping one day someone has the balls to do it.

  18. I enjoyed the film, however I would have prefered the original ending with the Squid.

    The question I walked out of the theater asking was, ” why didn’t Dr M. bilocate himself to every nuke, and teleport them into space?”

    I’m looking forward to the Directors cut on dvd,,,

  19. In my opinion, they should have made two, two hour movies, that way he could have put everything in that he wanted to, plus, this may sound absurd but put them out at the same time so you can see them back to back or one, one week and the other the second week.

  20. I agree with those of you who are not surprised that this movie didn’t do as well as the so called “experts” expected.

    I think that the strength of the story in the GN is the character development,and that goes without saying.the movie got that down pretty good,but the other strength in the GN is the little subtleties in the story that I really don’t think that the movie captured.

    My main problem with the Watchmen story in general,and probably why it didn’t make a boat load of money at the box office,is that there is way too much character development and not nearly enough action going on.Now of course that’s not what’s the driving force of the story but I think that’s exactly why some people who weren’t that familiar with the story just looked at it as some “wannabe” type of superhero movie.

    I could be wrong but that’s just my opinion.

  21. I think this makes it very clear as to why studios fight hard to make movies PG-13 instead of R.


  22. @ Vic

    I don’t know.I know statistically PG-13 movies make more money,but that doesn’t mean that all of them are better movies.

    I just looked up the movie Se7en,which was number 1 at the box office for 4 weeks,and if you look at all the other movies that were out at the time,most of them were rated R.In the 5th week when it dropped from 1st to 3rd,the number 1 movie that week was Get Shorty,another rated R movie.It came out in September,after the big summer rush of movies.

    There is obviously a correlation of when a movie is released,what the studio expects it to do in the theaters,and how hard they will fight with the producers and the MPAA to give it a lower rating in order to procure a higher box office draw.

    And that could be the reason that Watchmen was released in late winter/early spring with an R rating instead of mid summer with a PG-13 rating.Maybe the studio didn’t really expect much from it and gave it a release date that they would feel more optimistic about,instead of releasing it in the summer where it would’ve been buried.

  23. I think the real reason that the movie didn’t do well is that the American public in general can’t deal with too much thinking at the movies. And you had to do a lot of thinking to make it through this film and properly understand it – regardless of the popcorn aspect of the violence etc. Also the fact that it shows the U.S. in a cynical and not too friendly light made it difficult to market to a recession depressed public.
    On a related note, I saw the film in my hometown of Toronto last night and it the theatre seats looked to be about was about 60% sold.

  24. @ Mdnite

    I don’t think that there is really that much thinking that’s required to understand Watchmen,but I do agree with everything else you said.

  25. Its not that DURING the movie you had to think but AFTER the movie it definitely provoked some thought. The American movie industry has lost all ability to challenge mans/womans way of life, and make him/her think of how he/she and his government is running. The last movie i saw that did that was made in the 60′s and it was called 2001:A Space Odyssey.

  26. @Longshanks

    I never said that PG-13 movies were automatically BETTER. :-) Actually the movies that make the MOST money at the box office are family friendly PG and G rated movies. Go figure.


    You may be partially correct, but I think audiences were expecting a typical superhero movie like Spider-Man, Iron Man or The Dark Knight and instead got a film with extreme graphic violence, nudity and sex. That’s not what they were looking for when they walked into the theater. It just wasn’t marketed very well – and even if it had been, I don’t know if the wide audience would have been there for it.


  27. Watchmen is to comic book adaptions like Bladerunner or Dune was to Sci-Fi films…No one is going to get it right now,because its an epic,thinking movie..Its going to take your average person more than 10 times to view it and understand it,then 20 years before someone in this generation to come out and even think of remakeing it or even considering a sequel. This is not DK nor is it Superman. The only people that got this flick were the ones who have read the book 10 times or more in the past 20 years and were anticipating the movie..

  28. And it doesn’t matter what rating you put to it, if they don’t get it they don’t get it. Also what didn’t help the film was the lack of major talent.You can’t really sell the movie on no-names mind you the main ones such as wilson, and haley and as of late the actor who was the father on Supernatural(sorry forgot his name at the moment) and recently on Grosse Anatomy,these actors are just starting to get popular but now may have been typecast due to this film.

  29. @ Vic

    Yeah,I know that’s not what you were implying,but I just thought that I would illustrate that point.

    And not to try and contradict myself,but it seems like more rated R movies do require more attention from the viewer than your typical PG or PG-13 movies.So like midnite said,most people don’t have the attention span to actually pay attention to a 3 hour movie,which may be why they don’t make as much money in the theaters.

    Of course there are exceptions.