Watchmen No 300 at the Box Office
By John Hamann
March 8, 2009
Today, the question finally gets answered. Who Is Watching The Watchmen? The answer is everyone, as the Alan Moore graphic novel finally gets to the big screen in a big way. Watchmen earned $4.6 million from midnight screenings on Thursday, which started the inevitable hype as to how the film would perform over the rest of the weekend. Would the two hour and 43 minute run time put people off? Would the hard R rating prevent young'uns from seeing it? Would the mixed critical response, or the no-name actors filling in the film's biggest roles keep people away? BOP is watching those who watch the Watchmen, so read on, fearless reader...
Our number one film of the weekend is obviously Watchmen, but the question remained until today just how big this one was going to be. We know the Thursday midnight sneaks brought in $4.6 million, and we know the Friday gross came in at about $25.1 million. The overall weekend gross for Watchmen turned out to be a very good - but lower than expected - $55.7 million. As mentioned above, the graphic novel adaptation had a lot of things working against it - a long running time, which would have reduced the number of showings; a hard R rating for "strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity, and language", which would have reduced the target audience; and the mixed critical notices, which fans of the book would have ignored, but uninitiated fans may have latched onto. With these curve balls, the opening frame for Watchmen must be considered a success, and a big one at that.
Watchmen debuted on 3,611 screens, and could have taken even more, as other studios have gone into their holes - not only this weekend, but last weekend as well. Watchmen garnered a HUGE number of reviews at RottenTomatoes - 212, of which 138 were positive, leaving the comic book creation with a fresh rating of 65%. RT's "top critics" weren't as kind, as reviewers from newspapers and TV were only 45% positive. Watchmen was made for the fanboy, and director Zack Snyder (300) delivered, leaving the fans raving and outsiders cringing. Watchmen becomes the second biggest March opener ever, landing behind only 300, the other graphic novel based film from wonderboy Snyder, which finished the March 7-9, 2007 weekend with $70.9 million. Watchmen also turns in the second biggest single day in March, as 300 still remains champ with a first-day gross of $28.1 million. The biggest difference between 300 and Watchmen is that long running time. 300 had a run time of less than two hours, making it almost a full hour shorter than Watchmen. The run time limits the amount of screenings a theatre can show.
As a comic/graphic novel adaptation, everyone knew this one was never going to play in the same pond in terms of opening weekend gross as the Spider-Man films, Dark Knight or Iron Man. For DC Comics, the brand behind Watchmen, this is a bigger opening than DC's Superman Returns, and will help future DC projects make it to big screen, like perhaps Wonder Woman. DC has always seemed to struggle against the Marvel franchises, and this opening removes some of that stigma.