Warner’s Watchmen DVD Plans

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter / Under the Hood

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 uberfans 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.


  • John

    “The uberfans 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.

  • 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

    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.

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

  • Adam

    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.

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