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How Watchmen Killed 'R'-rated Fantasy Movies 771

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the oh-the-irony dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Of all the Hollywood properties consigned to development hell in the reductionist policy of the last 3-4 years of bad economy, the very last to have a prospect of a green light are expensive fantasy and SF projects that fall outside the 'family' remit. Not even the addition of James Cameron to David Fincher's Heavy Metal remake has stopped its begging-bowl passage from studio to studio; Robert Rodriguez's propriety of the Barbarella remake likewise toured the world in vain, apparently unmindful of the very unusual set of cultural and demographic circumstances that caused a major studio to back an 'erotic space opera' in 1968 — and to the fact that these circumstances are not likely to reoccur. David Fincher lamented in 2008 that the creation of dazzling artificial movie worlds is limited to family-friendly output — but in the long wake of the box-office disappointment of the 'R'-rated Watchmen movie, there seems no current prospect that the adults will ever get to play with the kids' toys again." The most frustrating part of this is that Watchmen was actually *good*.
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How Watchmen Killed 'R'-rated Fantasy Movies

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  • It was OK (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @12:48PM (#35233368) Homepage

    The most frustrating part of this is that Watchmen was actually *good*.

    I wasn't very happy about the altered ending or the removal of the guy reading the comic book.

  • Good? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by berj (754323) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @12:50PM (#35233390)

    Watchmen was an overlong, overwrought, overly wordy, over hyped, over produced mess.

    It was not, by any stretch of the imagination, good.

  • Heavy Metal? Plot? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mkiwi (585287) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @12:53PM (#35233432)

    Not even the addition of James Cameron to David Fincher's Heavy Metal remake has stopped its begging-bowl passage from studio to studio;

    I'm sorry, but Heavy Metal's plot is that a guy saves a girl in a few different dimensions and gets sexual favors as a result. Oh, and the dimensional thing was caused by this evil orb. That might qualify for a porno, but not for a Hollywood movie.

  • Re:Good? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @12:54PM (#35233438)
    Subjective art is subjective. For my part, it is one of the best movies I have ever seen.
  • Re:It was OK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @12:56PM (#35233464)
    That depends on whether you evaluate it as an adaptation of the comic or on its own merits, of course. Having not read the comic (and having no desire to, for that matter), I evaluated the movie simply as a movie, and in that regard I thought it was excellent. One of the best movies I've ever seen.
  • Not the same thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @12:57PM (#35233492)

    The most frustrating part of this is that Watchmen was actually *good*.

    Well, that was your opinion as a fan of the comic, I imagine. I am not a comic guy, saw the ads and didn't find myself particularly wanting to see it. I might Netflix it at some point, but it's not currently in my queue.

    I strongly suspect the real issue is there aren't enough people with taste similar to yours to make the types of movies you want to see financially viable. I know it's frustrating - many of my favorite TV shows over the past 20 years have quickly withered - but that's life. There's no need to look for a broader conspiracy, although people do seem predisposed to finding conspiracies even when none exists.

  • Re:Games Instead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:05PM (#35233608)

    But there's no reason that they couldn't make them and turn a decent profit. The real problem is that the studios think a 'big name' movie needs to have a $150 million (or more) budget. If you spend that kind of money of course you're going to have problems turning a profit on a movie that half your potential audience can't, or doesn't want to see simply because of the rating. But, if you can cut just a few corners, user lesser known actors (but then you might actually have to put some effort into casting! The horror!), and independent special effects companies you can make a movie for 1/5th the typical Hollywood action movie budget and it becomes much more profitable.

    District 9 is the quintessential modern example. Unknown actors, small special effects company trying to prove itself, a cheap filming location, etc. Revenues of $210 million (barely enough to come out ahead for a typical action sci-fi movie), but because of the much smaller budget ($30 million) it was a roaring financial success. Because when you come down to it, the actors were surprisingly effective, special effects just shouldn't cost tens of millions of dollars anymore, and it is the story first and the action second that people want to see and the film delivers both very well; over hyped special effects and famous actors a distant 3rd and 4th in the action sci-fi genre.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:11PM (#35233696) Homepage Journal

    This is as bad as the remake of Red Dawn, yeah for those who didn't know they are doing a remake of Red Dawn.

    There was zero reason to Watchmen to have released as R rated. If anything I got the distinct impression they were after that so all those geeks who would see the film regardless of rating could somehow feel smug that they were seeing an serious "artsy" film, you know what I mean.

    Who needs nudity to tell most of these stories? This is starting to sound like I am in MMORPG where every other word in chat is a cuss word or bigoted as if that somehow elevates the participants to a higher level of maturity or intelligence.

    Just give me good stories. Nudity is a cop out, the examples all cited by the article are dwell on nudity. Sorry, Alien was rated R for violence and gore and it was a damn site better than Watchmen. It was story and the presentation of the story that mattered, not who was wearing what.

  • by StandardCell (589682) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:18PM (#35233790)
    This is part of the problem with these R-rated fantasy/comic movies. Watchmen is pretty heavy stuff both from a philosophical and situational perspective. I saw the movie on a plane flying to my vacation and came off of it depressed and with a heavy heart despite the basic outcome. In that respect, the movie did its job. The adult comic genre is really a way for many artists to express themselves on very adult topics without having a huge production budget and just some decent drawing talent.

    Watchmen wasn't too dissimilar to the bittersweet ending of Sin City. You liked the characters, but most of the "good" (read: likable) guys actually die. The key is that both of these comics explore the subtlety that what is good versus bad isn't cut and dried. Most people aren't really willing to spend their two hours of escape dealing with these subjects and want to see the bad guy lose because it represents their boss or ex or some other negative character in their lives.

    Contrast Watchmen and Sin City with LOTR: ROTK where the ending was again turned into a much happier event than what was in the books. Now look at which of these three movies I discussed made the most money. That's what the studio execs are most interested in. I just hope the genre doesn't completely go away because of straight money concerns. Sometimes producing art for its own sake is a worth cause.
  • Re:Games Instead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stregano (1285764) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:20PM (#35233830)
    I could not agree more. If they stopped pulling in the actors that think they require 20 million per movie, and bring somebody in and pay them 250k for a movie (I would be thrilled as hell personally if I worked for one year and made that), then the budgets would drop way down. Seriously big movie industry, stop throwing money around and, gasp, for once, act like a business. I hate the way big business conducts itself, but if the movie industry did this, their profits would shoot through the roof. Sure, Will Smith, Nick Cage, Vin Diesel, Bruce Willis, and those guys would be out on the streets since apparently they can't handle anything less than 20 million, we get the same movie, but with a new face. It would be nice, as we would associate with the character more than the actor. I would rather not know who in the hell the actor is, because I will associate the actor to that movie and not their role in Die Hard and then when this movie is not as good, compare it to Die Hard.
  • Re:Good? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShavedOrangutan (1930630) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:25PM (#35233916)
    "It was not, by any stretch of the imagination, good." - (Score:0, Troll)

    "For my part, it is one of the best movies I have ever seen." - (Score:5, Insightful)

    Neither of these comments is a troll or insightful.

    Who watches the watchmen? Clearly nobody mods the moderators.
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:26PM (#35233922) Journal

    Meh, I've seen better blue wieners. I believe the real reason Watchmen tanked is that it came out a little bit too late. When times are good, people can enjoy gritty anti-heroes. When times are tight, they hate ambiguity in their heroes and want something a lot more black and white than Watchmen.

  • by RailGunner (554645) * on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:29PM (#35233988) Journal
    The most frustrating part of this is that Watchmen was actually *good*.

    And The Dark Knight, rated PG-13, was easily 10 times better than Watchmen. Why so hung up on ratings? Why so... serious?
  • by stiller (451878) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:52PM (#35234368) Homepage Journal

    It's not even that one particular movie can ruin the chances of other, completely unrelated movies. It's simply that the whole premise of 'rating' a movie based on specific content without any context is a stupid idea. So there is some nudity in Watchmen. So what? Do you think a pair of breasts is going break the fragile little mind of a 10 year old? Yes, I'm sure some people think that, but why should the nation as a whole suffer from it? Let them start their own, even more conservative rating system, one which the general public can ignore.

    To compare things, I just looked up the rating for Watchmen in the Netherlands. It's 16, which is the highest rating we've got. (it's all, 6, 9, 12, 16) This isn't that unusual. For example, it was the same rating given to the Dark Knight. It's probably due more to violence than nudity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:53PM (#35234376)

    Taco says it was a good movie. Then Escort comes in implying the only reason Taco liked it is because he is a fan of the comic. Escort then goes on to admit that he has not seen the movie.

    People, Escort is making comments about a movie has never seen. Why is that modded up?

  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:55PM (#35234422) Journal

    However, there was no need for a full frontal Dr. Manhattan.

    I simply do not get at all why people get hung up about this. The guy can't be bothered with clothes anymore and nobody dares to tell him otherwise anymore. What's the issue?

  • Re:Good? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:59PM (#35234478)
    Oh come now, the latter comment might not be insightful but the former can certainly be considered a troll. Whether you enjoy a movie or not is entirely subjective, therefore to blanket claim a movie is not good (rather than saying you didn't enjoy it) is certainly going to attract negative responses from those who enjoyed the movie. What is a troll if not a comment with a good chance of garnering negative responses?
  • Re:It was good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Americano (920576) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @02:09PM (#35234648)

    He's afraid that if he doesn't express outrage over seeing a photo of a penis, everybody will think he's one of them homma-sexshuls.

  • Re:Good? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Thursday February 17, 2011 @02:19PM (#35234792)

    For precisely that reason - the negative point claimed it was bad as a fact. The positive one claimed it was good in the author's opinion.

  • Re:It was good. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stevecrox (962208) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @02:30PM (#35234976) Journal
    I think it sums up everything wrong with Watchman, the whole film seemed to be trying to be edgy to an unnecessary degree.

    What did seeing it do? The story for Dr M already showed him disconnected from reality several well aimed shots could easily show he was naked without having to see a bare ass or penis.

    Its like Torchwood, Dexter or True Blood, the first time you see something edgy is cool but for example I've grown bored of the sex scenes in True Blood and skip through them. If I want to watch porn, I'll watch porn. Watchmen was edgy for edgy for edgy's sake.

    The Dark Knight was far darker and adult when compared to Watchman.
  • No great loss. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Beelzebud (1361137) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @02:31PM (#35234984)
    I love adult sci-fi, however when you look at that list of examples, it's easy to see why they aren't going anywhere. They're all remakes of movies that have been done. Surly there is at least one original script floating around hollywood? Does every movie have to be a remake, or based on a comic book?
  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @02:43PM (#35235156) Journal
    I would hope that Watchmen got its 'R' rating for all the violence in it, not because it had a naked man in it. Then again, I'm European and possibly things are different in the USA.
  • Re:It was good. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @03:17PM (#35235564) Journal

    I think it sums up everything wrong with Watchman, the whole film seemed to be trying to be edgy to an unnecessary degree. What did seeing it do? The story for Dr M already showed him disconnected from reality several well aimed shots could easily show he was naked without having to see a bare ass or penis.

    See, to me I have to question why you're starting from the position of his nudity having to be done for the sake of "edginess" or why other ways of showing his increasing detachment could be used without "having to see a bare ass or penis". You've taken for granted that we should not see such things without there being a special reason for it, and in the case of Watchman where there is a reason for it, you've expressed that another way of satisfying that reason should have been found. Implicit in your argument is an assumption that his nudity is a bad thing that should only be included in special circumstances. Whereas from my point of view, it's a complete non-issue not requiring any justification. What I'm curious about is why you see it differently.

  • Re:It was OK (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scubamage (727538) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @03:59PM (#35235980)
    That's the whole point behind the Comedian though. For instance, in the US (not to bash it, or start debating politics, just using my own nation as an example), our government subjugates other nations, supports guerrilla fighters who rape, murder, kill and steal (and not always in that order). We deprive other people of their right to have democratically elected governments. We have committed genocide against the natives of our land. But we paint ourselves as the goodguys, and heroes using blood for the paint. Every time one of our soldiers kills "the enemy" they're still killing another human being, who likewise will be considered a hero by their side. It's all a pathetic farce. And the comedian was a parody of it. He knew that we're just apes attacking other apes around the obelisk. Such a cool character.
  • by khallow (566160) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @07:12PM (#35238686)

    Right, so everybody on /. understands Alan Moore's creative works better than Alan Moore.

    Wouldn't be the first time. I don't see any evidence that Moore has a particularly deep understanding of making movies, for example.

    Who gives a shit what his intent was, or what he would have wanted, as long as somebody makes a really cool movie using his characters and ideas in a way we think is entertaining.

    Exactly. This is one of the reasons I'm not a big fan of long copyrights. They keep others from playing with someone's story in a way we think is entertaining.

    Plus, it looks like I'll die of old age before I see any legal Disney porn. That's a real tragedy.

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