"Watchmen" looks to conquer mainstream audiences

Wed Mar 4, 2009 10:52pm EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The creators of "Watchmen" call it a new, psychologically complex version of the superhero movie, but they are banking on it to conquer the box office the way conventional comic book movies have done.

To do that, "Watchmen", which opens around the world this week, must attract those who have never heard of characters like Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan and Silk Spectre, and who want a thrilling joyride, box-office watchers said.

For years, filming a movie based on the sprawling 1980s "Watchmen" comic books by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons was considered impossible due to its multiple characters, violence, digressions and abundance of dialogue.

"It's difficult material. You can't put it on the head of a pin," producer Larry Gordon told reporters.

But fellow producer Lloyd Levin said audiences are getting more sophisticated.

"The movie audience of today has caught up with the comic book audience of the 1980s, and superheroes are the absolute mainstream and I think there is the opportunity to push things a little bit further," Levin said.

"Watchmen", which cost about $120 million to make and runs for 2 hours 43 minutes, is set in 1985 amid the specter of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The only superhero with real powers is a freak of science called Dr. Manhattan who is nearly omnipotent but escapes to Mars because he cannot understand humans and women in particular. Billy Crudup plays the often nude Dr. Manhattan, who was given a computer generated blue glow.   Continued...

<p>A logo to promote the film "The Watchmen" is projected onto fine spray water screen over the River Thames near to the Houses of Parliament in London, March 4, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>