I caught a pre-screening of one of the most hotly-contested and highly-anticipated movies of the year.
"Watchmen" - the source of a multi-million dollar lawsuit between Warner Bros. and Fox - opens tonight nationwide. I have to say its performance at the box office will be incredibly telling about the state of the movie industry. Expect the power of marketing, the fanboy, and the success of the filmmaker's last film, "300," to help it prevail at the box office.
It's on track to have a huge weekend: Tickets for its 1,600 midnight screenings are selling out fast. Nearly all online ticket sales this week have been for the movie, and it's rolling out to 3,611 screens, the most ever for an R-rated film. The film doesn't need to perform over a long period of time. If it can pull off a $70 million opening weekend like "300" did, Warner Bros., Fox and Paramount will consider the investment and the legal battles well worth it. In effect, a movie of this type doesn't have to be fantastic (like "The Dark Knight") in order to recoup the investment.
Flawed movies, if they've got great ad campaigns, can still deliver studios big results.
The reportedly $120 million plus budget movie has a lot working in its favor; a huge ad campaign, a recognizable brand with a fan base (that smiley face button with a drop of blood on it is pretty striking). But, on the downside, it's rated R, which reduces its potential audience, it's almost three hours long, which limits the number of times theaters can screen the film each day, and the brand, while recognizable, lacks the narrative and familiarity of other superhero stories like Batman or Spider Man.
Would I see it again? Probably not. Its really dark and violent, way too much gratuitous blood for me. But I'm not the target audience and neither are critics — it's meant for 18-to 35 year old guys and I expect them to turn out in droves.