Warner’s Watchmen DVD Plans
May 26, 2008

According to today’s NY Times, Warner will be releasing a straight-to-DVD animated movie tentatively called Tales of the Black Freighter five days after Watchmen opens in theaters. It “follows a side Watchmen storyline about a shipwreck… The DVD will also include a documentary-style film called Under the Hood that will delve into the characters’ backstories.”

The story postulates these kinds of promotions as a way to attempt to reverse soft DVD sales — last years’ figures declined for the first time in the history of the format — and keep the amount of shelf space at retailers from being cut back. Personally, I used to buy a lot more DVDs than I do now. But then I realized how many of them I haven’t watched, and I saw how prices would drop significantly if I waited, and I don’t care about their attempts to create a higher-priced (Blu-ray) format.

Ron Sanders, the president of Warner Home Video, said, “We are offering retailers a meaningful opportunity to be involved with the theatrical event, to have a product that will generate foot traffic and sales.” But Warner also gets the benefit of having all these little DVD ads on shelves for the increasingly important second weekend in the theaters. The article reports,

The immediate goal is for the parallel release to help start a potential new movie franchise.

How do you create a franchise out of Watchmen? Isn’t the point a single story? Also, DVD plans are as follows: the original tie-in, the film itself on DVD about four months later, and then an eventual “‘ultimate’ edition in which the two are edited together into one megamovie.” Director Zack Snyder says, “The überfans of this property are going to go crazy for that.” Does Watchmen have “uberfans”? Or does writer Alan Moore? That’s not all:

In addition, the studio plans a dozen 22- to 26-minute Webisodes to help make the complex story easier for the uninitiated to digest. Called “The Watchmen Motion Comic,” it will be a panel-by-panel slide show of the graphic novel narrated by an actor.

Someone reads the comic to you? Wow, it used to be that comics were considered for the subliterate; now, they’ve even dumbed that down.

13 Responses  
John writes:  

“The überfans of this property are going to go crazy for that.”

I’ve always liked the comic/graphic novel a lot, but I’ve never thought much about the “property” . . . this is the problem with entertainment today. The director of a film is speaking about properties. Directors have become marketers who see world building as another money-making opportunity in synergy with all the other mediums.

Thanks, George Lucas, that’s your real contribution to movies and storytelling.

James Schee writes:  

Well they are already making Watchmen toys. I can see it now

Little Jenny “Momma, Jimmy’s blue guy toy has something that my Ken doll doesn’t when you take off his clothes.”

If the movie is successful I could see Watchmen sequals, cartoons, shirts, etc. It wouldn’t be the first adult themed property to get franchised, look at the first Ghostbusters movie for an example.

Of course I’d be sure to stay away from Moore if I was involved in any of it.

Dave writes:  

Three words, nay, letters for ya:


Nat Gertler writes:  

Look at The Godfather. Sequels, action figures, video games, planned comic books. And yet, it hasn’t removed respect from the original novel or the first movie.

Andrew writes:  

Well, I’m sure someone reading the book to you as it goes by in a slideshow should appeal to purists and Moore himself. There’s a lot of loud people who want that kind of groin-grabbingly slavish devotion to the source material.

Nat Gertler writes:  

I suspect Moore put too much effort into grid design for the book to consider that appealing or devotion.

Adam writes:  

So, to decode, they’re essentially saying that the actual film is missing so many bits that they have several hours worth of footage to fill in.

It reminds me of all the Matrix-based webisodes oh, and the Star wars ones… etc. they were OK, but nothing more that supportive fluff — it stops the hardcore fans from whining too much.

…and I like the use of the term ‘property’… it asserts ownership.

Charles RB writes:  

I initially misread that and thought they meant they wanted a _Black Freighter_ franchise…

Non-Summer Big Superhero Movies » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[…] meta-commentary that made the book unique. I’m not really interested. Especially since the eventual DVD sounds like the thing to wait for, with the different layers of […]

Watchmen Promotional Efforts Increase » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[…] of DVDs, in addition to the Watchmen motion comic DVD, Warner has followed up on plans announced last May to put out the animated Tales of the Black Freighter, due out March 24. Also included on that disc […]

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter / Under the Hood » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[…] fans to pay this much (list price: $28) for promotional material, even if it does serve as an ad for the movie, is annoying. A key question for potential customers: even if you want to see it, would you ever […]

Mabel writes:  

Oh I loved the comic and the movie. It would be great to have the Black Freighter and the newsstand woven into it, but I would like to also have the movie the way I saw it in the theater without paying for two different DVDs separately. So hopefully the Ultimate edition will have all that.

I hate to wait, but I guess I’ll have to.

Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut Due November 3 » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] originally discussed in May 2008, Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut will be arriving on DVD on November […]


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