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?