UPDATED!! AICN EXCLUSIVE!! WATCHMEN Has A New Director... Again!!
Published at: March 24, 2006, 5:47 p.m. CST by staff
Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Although I can’t publish my full detailed report until May, I had a very interesting visit this week to the editing room of the new Warner Bros. film 300, directed by Zack Snyder. I walked into the encounter thinking he was a talented guy who had made a pretty good first film. I left the encounter convinced that Snyder is one of the best-kept secrets in Hollywood right now, a visionary with a wicked eye and a real feel for how to bring fantastic material to the bigscreen.
While I was there, I noticed a copy of the WATCHMEN graphic novel sitting on the desk of his office, and in our conversations about Frank Miller and his newfound luck in film translations of his work, the subject of Alan Moore came up. Snyder mentioned that he was about to meet with the producers of WATCHMEN to discuss whether or not he would come aboard to direct the long-in-development film.
I’ve been able to confirm now that Snyder has entered negotiations with Warner Bros. to helm the project, which is fantastic news. I know that all you guys have seen so far is DAWN OF THE DEAD, so that’s all you can judge him on, but trust me... 300 is a whole different ball game. When you get a load of what this guy is capable of... when you see how far he pushes things with bringing Frank Miller’s world to life... you’ll be just as excited as I am. I’ve always said that WATCHMEN had the right producers and writer attached, and I think there have been some interesting directors (Aronofsky and Greengrass) attached to it in the last few years. But with Snyder, I think the WATCHMEN may have finally found the perfect guy for the job, and I am absolutely rabid to see what he’s going to do.
And speaking of that script... I’ve heard there are some revisions underway to really fine-tune the various Hayter drafts and make sure that what ends up onscreen is the most perfect realization of Moore’s book possible. I’m hoping I can work something out where I can track down the new writer and talk with him about the work he’s doing, because I know how important this book is to so many of you. Zack Snyder said the same thing about it to me, talking about the responsibility of bringing something like WATCHMEN to life. “If I screw up 300, that would be heartbreaking, but ultimately, it’s not as well known a property. If you get WATCHMEN wrong... well...”
He didn’t have to finish the sentence, and he doesn’t have to worry. I have utmost faith that he’s going to knock it out of the park. I’m as sure of that as I am of the fact that when the trades finally report Snyder has signed as director, they won’t mention that the story broke here first. Take that to the bank.
Okay... I wanted to add a few comments in light of the incredibly redundant talkback that has erupted below. If I could strike any one regurgitated bit of parrot speak from the collective vocabulary of fandom, it would be that numbingly predictable "WATCHMEN should be an HBO series" horseshit. I love Terry Gilliam. The man made my favorite film, BRAZIL. But when he said what he said fifteen years ago, he was responding to a script draft by Sam Hamm and a development process that involved producers that have been off the film for a long, long time. And at the time, maybe he really did think that was the only hope for the property.
But this steadfast insistence that the property can't be done justice in film form is just plain wrong. I disagree completely. And that's because I've read many drafts of the current project, including the one I reviewed here. It is possible. And not only that, it's a priority to Lloyd Levin and Larry Gordon, who have stayed with this property in its journey from Universal to Revolution to Paramount to Warner Bros. They've been with it through several different directors. And although I haven't heard from them on this, I assume they're the ones who are working with the young writer who is currently crafting what will hopefully be the final draft of this script. When you dismiss this project... when you dismiss the possibility of it out of hand, and when you say it could "only" work in television form... it's simply not true. More is possible if you're dealing with a script that genuinely respects the source material than you may even believe.
At its worst, fandom has a close-minded victim's mentality that must be incredibly frustrating for anyone actually trying to develop something like this, because you're faced with obstinance for the mere point of it. If you haven't seen what they're up to yet, and you don't know what they've done with the adaptation, and you haven't seen one image or design or indication of the look or feel, how can you make such a grand sweeping pronouncement? "It's not possible." All that says is that you can't do it. That doesn't mean it's beyond someone else.
I have spent years writing about this project and following its development not because I want it to suck, but because I believe that there's a chance it could be something great. And if there's any chance for that to happen at all, I know how incredibly tricky it's going to be. It's going to require a perfect mix of director and actors and script and production design and cinematography, and there are a million points along the way where something could go wrong. But if you take the attitude up front that it can "never" work, then it seems to me you really shouldn't even bother commenting any further. There was a time when you could have said that it would "never" work to make a film of SIN CITY, or that Warner would "never" make a serious Batman film, or that they would "never" get Spider-Man to move like Spider-Man, or that LORD OF THE RINGS would "never" work as a film, or even as a trilogy. And if you can look at all the times people have done exactly what they should "never" have been able to do, and you can still be so incredibly closed to this film sight unseen, then just give it up. You can just go off and imagine your pointless masturbatory 12 hour version of the thing, and be done with it. For some of us, the potential of film is part of the pleasure, and your pessimism seems like poison for the sake of poison.