I knew Zack Snyder’s Watchmen movie would have a drop in box office over the weekend, but I didn’t expect the feature film to drop a whopping 67% from its debut a week ago.  Watchmen was only able to bring in $18.1 million over the weekend, while Disney’s Race to Which Mountain, debuted with $25 million.

“This drop falls within the norm for big and highly anticipated movies,” Warners exec VP of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein said.

Pointing to several examples, Goldstein noted that “The Incredible Hulk” fell 60% in its second weekend after opening to $55.4 million. That film cumed $134.8 million domestically. “Sex and the City” fell 63% in its second frame on its way to cuming north of $150 million domestically.

While this may be the norm for Warner Bros. a 67% drop means there are a lot of people aren’t seeing the movie.  Could this be due to the subject matter getting an R rating, a plot mainstream audience won’t/can’t understand, the graphic violence, or does this mark a significant decline in interterest in comic book movies?  If it is, that could really be bad for the movie industry, as there are a plethora of comic book adaptations currently grinding their way through the Hollywood machine.

via Variety

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. Jacin B.
    March 16, 2009 at 9:03 am — Reply

    “Could this be due to the subject matter getting an R rating … ?


    “… a plot mainstream audience won’t/can’t understand … ?

    They can understand it. They just don’t care to try. It was groundbreaking 20+ years ago. Now it’s just ‘meh.’

    … the graphic violence … ?

    Graphic violence doesn’t disturb most people. This takes graphic violence and steps it up a notch for no apparent reason. That’s what people don’t care to see.

    … or does this mark a significant decline in interterest in comic book movies?

    No, it just marks a decline in interest in this comic book movie. Let’s be honest, no one cares about Watchmen. Half of the comic-loving community doesn’t care about Watchmen. Is it an important, groundbreaking work? Sure. It was. But, that was 20+ years ago.

    No one saw Hellboy II either. But, the next [insert Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man, or Superman] film that comes out will, once again, be a huge blockbuster.

    It’s like I said a week ago: Snyder effectively took a niche demographic (comic book fans), disected it into a smaller segment (those who cared about Watchmen to begin with, which is a small number despite Moore’s ego telling us otherwise), and culled the numbers of people that could see the movie (only those over 18 due to the R-rating) by ratcheting the violence up to a point where, as the New Yorker reviewed, only those over 18 could watch and only those under 25 would want to.

    R-rated movies just simply don’t make as much money as movies that are more family friendly. It’s a fact. You make money by making movies that people can take thier kids to, or can go see with thier teenagers. This movie is, quite clearly, neither.

    Had Snyder opted to tone things down, even just slightly, from where the comic book’s original levels of sex and violence were, he could’ve gotten a PG-13 and made, easily, twice as much money.

    He didn’t. So, he got beat out by a lame Disney movie (it ain’t like ‘Race to Witch Mountain’ is Bolt or … well, anything from Pixar). Hopefully, people producing these movies will take note.

  2. Curtis
    March 16, 2009 at 10:39 am — Reply

    While I do agree with the narrow market to begin with for “Watchmen”, the sex and violence in the movie are there for the fans of the books. Yes, it is different one is a book the other is a movie. The book didn’t outsell X-men #1 and this movie will not outdo 300. It is a niche movie and should be happy to make it money on the 20 versions of the dvd and blu-ray that will be released.

  3. Generik
    March 16, 2009 at 11:20 am — Reply

    I don’t think this marks a decline in interest in comic book movies at all. I will turn 34 this year and I just read Watchmen for the first time about 8 months ago. Yet I have hundreds of comics books stored down in the basement. Point being, I think it is a ludicrous assumption to judge an entire segment of the industry based on one movie that the bulk of the world is not going to be familiar with. Everyone knows Batman, Superman, Spiderman, The Hulk.. etc. Watchmen is much more niche. I actually assumed the whole time that this movie was going to do ‘Ok’ but not spectacular just because of that.

    • March 16, 2009 at 11:54 am — Reply

      Generik: that statement wasn’t made based on one movie, but rather a gradual decline in interest from movie goers since November of last year with the utter failure of The Spirit.

  4. Jacin B.
    March 16, 2009 at 12:00 pm — Reply

    The Spirit was another movie that no one but comic geeks would’ve had any clue about. No one outside of our community has any clue who Eisner was. In fact, if you say his name, most people will assume you’re talking about the former head of Disney. And, on top of that, the film sucked.

    No one knows (and, by extension, no one cares) about books like Watchmen outside of our little community, and that’s why it didn’t make as much money as people — particularly those within our community — were expecting.

    The Dark Knight and Iron Man did just fine. Those were names people knew, in movies done well, featuring big-name actors, targetted at a wider demographic. ( No, you shouldn’t take your little kids to see either of them, but there was nothing in either that I’d have trouble letting at tween or teenage kid see. )

    • March 16, 2009 at 12:41 pm — Reply

      So if I’m following your logic Jacin, what you are saying is only name recognized comic book movies will succeed? interesting concept… I wonder how that applies to the success of Blade?

  5. ~wyntermute~
    March 16, 2009 at 12:44 pm — Reply

    I think Jacin may have already touched on this, but what the hell. I got $0.02 to spare. :D What I believe this signifies is a lack (not even a decline) of interest in unfamiliar characters. There are lots of good _original_ movies that come out every year, and then when “Friday The 13th — Part Umpteen: We’re Rebooting!” is released it grosses twice what a large number of those other aforementioned films will. People like spending ten shells on things they already have a feeling they will like, unless word of mouth is unanimously favorable. People already know what the deal with SuperKent is, or Batman, or Hulk Smash, etc. They like seeing things that either reinforce or slightly tweak the conventions. Remakes, sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and so on… I realize I’m speaking in fairly broad strokes here, but this is “pop culture” and kinda is ‘broad strokes’ when you stop to think about it. I hope?

  6. ~wyntermute~
    March 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm — Reply

    Blade had vampires. That’s a double-whammy. Oh, and Wesley Snipes was hot sh!t then. His name sold it. Triple-whammied, son. Blade was born to win. :D

  7. Graciela
    March 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm — Reply

    I don’t think this means people aren’t seeing comic book movies. I think Watchmen comes with its own problems. There is the hard R rating. While some dumb parents were idiotic enough to take their children to see this movie (probably expecting some kiddie comic movie), I’m sure those parents told other parents not to take their kids. Family movies usually fare better than non-family movies and with Disney’s seal of approval, I imagine parents bypassed the R rated Watchmen this weekend.

    There’s also notoriety. Watchmen isn’t a household name like Batman or Spiderman so I think its attracting audiences the way Sin City did. A movie based on a comic that probably few outside of fandom ever heard about. But people still went to see it because it looked cool and it looked like a dark movie with some action. These aren’t the types of movies that are going to break all-time box office records but they’ll do moderately well. Turning a profit, especially in this economy, is the desired result. They’ve done it.

    Lastly, it could be the economy too. I dunno about other folks but I stick to Netflix these days and avoid theaters. It’s just so expensive. So unless you’re dying to see this movie, and you probably saw it last weekend, chances are you’ll save your $20 for groceries or something important. We’re at record levels of unemployment. Watchmen is just not a priority. And if you do go to the movies in these dire times, you want to go with your family and make a day of it. So you go see Race to Witch Mountain.

    Watchmen is holding steady at #2 and I suspect it’ll keep in the top 10 for a few more weeks. It’s money making potential is not over yet and so comic book movies will live on.

  8. Graciela
    March 16, 2009 at 12:58 pm — Reply

    I’m sorry I take I take one comment back. I was looking at the Sin City numbers. Watchmen hasn’t turned a profit YET. But they’re darn close and since it’s only weekend #2, I’m pretty sure it’ll recoup its budget.

  9. Curtis
    March 16, 2009 at 3:01 pm — Reply

    If I remember the promos correctly for Blade, it was billed as much more of a horror/action film with an Alist actor to carry the movie. Big difference from what you see with Watchmen which was promoted as an adult superhero movie.

  10. MaximusRift
    March 16, 2009 at 6:00 pm — Reply

    I think everybody made the points I would have made, so I’ll just add the one nobody made.

    I haven’t watch Witch Mountain yet, but couldn’t it be just a good family movie? I mean the way you say it makes it look like the movie is a big Disney turd.

  11. March 16, 2009 at 9:16 pm — Reply

    I didn’t see it either, and granted it is supposed to be a family film, but from the previews I have seen it is no where near close to the original Disney version.

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