For years, comics fans have stated that the landmark graphic novel Watchmen was unfilmable, partly due to the fact that its narrative is so dense and that even seemingly throwaway scenes or bits of dialogue have importance later on. It came as a relief, then, when it was reported in May that director Zack Snyder’s attempt to actually bring the comic to the big screen was looking to clock in at an epic-length three hour run time.
But now, it looks like that may be in jeopardy, as Sci-Fi Wire reports that Snyder is currently under studio pressure to edit the film down to a shorter length.
The balancing act for me is, you want the movie as tight as possible for, I don’t know why, I guess so people can enjoy it. But for me, the hardest part is just, when is it not Watchmen anymore? I don’t think that’s a danger, but it’s a thing that I am trying to be the gatekeeper of while other forces conspire to say, ‘No. Length, length, length. Playability.’ Whatever the hell that means.
Movies that run much longer than two hours have always had a hard time with studios and exhibitors simply because the extended runtime means less number of times the film can be screened during a day, ultimately impacting box office revenue. Of course, as the Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter franchises have shows, if a long film is done well enough and respects its source material, then audiences will probably come back to see it again while it is still in the theaters.
But Snyder’s concerns aren’t so much for how many tickets are sold each day but that those fans who do buy tickets get the best movie possible.
I’ve lost perspective on that now, because to me, the honest truth is I geek out on little stuff now as much as anybody. . . Like, people will go, ‘We’ve got to cut. You don’t need that shot of Hollis Mason’s garage sign.’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? Of course you do. Are you crazy? How will people enjoy the movie without s–t like that in it?’ So it’s hard for me. I think it’s probably good, because I think we’re going to end up with that stuff in the movie.
Fans can get a taste of Snyder has up his sleeve for the film in a few weeks when the first trailer for Watchmen shows up in front of another long superhero film, the nearly two-and-a-half hour Batman flick, The Dark Knight. He also hopes to be able to screen the film, presumably in a rough cut form, at the San Diego Comic Con.