Watchmen - in 600 more theaters - won't even beat "300"

by Paul William Tenny

Fantasies that Watchmen would open to $70 million this weekend went up in flames after the early numbers came in on Saturday. Forget about setting new records, Snyder's adaptation of the popular Alan Moore graphic novel didn't won't even beat 300.
Rival studio suits are surely breathing easier with what looks to be a roughly $55 million weekend. Warner Brothers, though, can't be all that happy in retrospect. Watchmen opened to 600 fewer theaters than 300, and will make less money in its opening weekend, and that's with zero competition holding it back. It sucks to miss the projection -- most had seemed to settle somewhere around 60 million, hoping for 70 -- but it can't be nearly as bad as what this guy did:

90 mil at least.....nothing is rivaling it, and it has a whole lot more buzz than 300

The problem here is that the film had an overabundance of buzz with bloggers and fans of the graphic novel, but not with critics and possibly not with moviegoers. It wasn't bad as Snakes on a Plane, and nothing may ever be that bad again, but I was concerned about this false sense of entitlement in that group, and here it is born out.

And we still don't know how reactions to the film are going to affect the rest of its weekend and the next couple of months. Generally the first Friday can give you a ballpark idea of the entire run, but some movies like this you just don't know if they have legs or not.

Titanic was the #1 film at the domestic box office for months, without a "blockbuster" opening weekend, it had the kind of legs you need to be the highest grossing film of all time. The Dark Knight had the blockbuster opener and continued to do well after, but it didn't have Titanic's legs. Dark Knight lost the top spot after I think the third week, and Watchmen even it if had opened to $70 million like some people dreamed it would, will probably fall to second or even third by next week simply because it's going to have real competition for the first time.

It's kind of weird to say that a $55 opener is disappointing, but there it is:

Watchmen's First Day... Disappoints (io9)
Quoting an unnamed exhibitor, "They will get a lot of initial interest because it's an event movie in March -- and then the bottom falls out. Whether Warner Bros can broaden the campaign to sustain interest in Watchmen is what movie analysts will be watching after this Sunday."

Watchmen opens to $25 million Friday (what it means for the moment)...
It looks like that's about what Watchmen will do, somewhere between $60 and $65 million for the weekend. Of course, what I did not expect is how badly the movie would be received, even in the geek community, which greatly changes the importance of the opening weekend. I also wrote elsewhere that we shouldn't rush to judge the movie as a flop if it only opened to $50 million.

Just so it's understood, it looks closer to $50-55m than $60-65. Scott Mendelson also has a bit of very troubling information that I can't seem to nail down. I first guessed, just based on what I saw on TV, that the marketing budget for Watchmen would be somewhere between $15-30 million. Then I read it was $50 million, but Scott is saying it's closer to $100 million for worldwide marketing. If that's true, then the real cost of Watchmen stands closer to $220 million. A $55 million weekend opening is not going to cut it for a $220 million flick.

It's jut not.

Not with Paramount owning foreign distribution and Fox getting a piece of the global pie due to a lawsuit over film rights. If Watchmen ends up with $145 million domestic only, I don't see how this is anything other than a failure, even if a moderate one.
in Film


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