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Entertainment Roundtable: Who watched 'Watchmen'?

The Oklahoman's Gene Triplett, Heather Warlick, Matthew Price and Brandy McDonnell talk "Watchmen" and more.
Oklahoman Modified: March 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm •  Published: March 9, 2009
Did "Watchmen" have the right stuff? And do the New Kids On The Block still have it? Our entertainment panel tackles those subjects as well as the star-studded Oklahoma movie coming our way in the latest Entertainment Roundtable.

1. What does the opening weekend of "Watchmen" mean for comic book fans, Zack Snyder fans, or fans of comic book movies?

Entertainment Editor Gene Triplett: Somebody's obviously excited, judging from its $55.7 million box office take. Comic book fans and non-comics fans alike consider "Watchmen" to be a masterpiece that elevated the medium to the realm of literature. "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof called it the greatest work of popular fiction ever written. So I would imagine a lot of comics fans are well pleased that after three different directors tried and failed to bring it to the screen, Zack Snyder finally succeeded. That accomplishment, hot on the heels if "300," should put him at the top of the heap as the go-to director for comic book movies. Films like this one and "The Dark Knight" are lifting the comic book movie to a new level of respectability.

Assistant Features Editor Matt Price: Ultimately I think Warner Bros. will be a little disappointed with the $55.7 million dollar opening. Admittedly, it’s the third-best March opening ever, but I think they had in mind topping the $70 million opening earned by "300," Snyder’s previous film.

Something to look at for comic-book fans: The adaptation of Mark Millar’s "Wanted" graphic novel had bigger stars, and changed quite a bit from the comic book (eliminating all of the costumes and traditional superpowers). It opened to $50 million on a $75 million budget. "Watchmen" opened nearly the same, with a larger budget, and it’s been noted as remarkably true to its source material. Will this make studios less likely to make graphic novel films that hew close to the source material? Will it make them more likely to go after name stars? I think it’ll come down to budget. It might be a little harder to green light a $100 million-plus hard "R" graphic novel adaptation, but on the other hand, it does show that there’s a lot of fanboy fervor for this type of thing, especially when you look at the strong IMAX numbers. I have a feeling you might see some more $50-$75 million hard R adaptations; studios might be less likely to want to spend $100 million plus on material that’s not PG-13.

Entertainment writer Brandy McDonnell: The more than $55 million opening for "Watchmen" is actually pretty good news for fans, even if didn't meet some expectations after all the months of hype. The opening weekend take wasn't as strong as the $70 million for Snyder's "300," but "Watchmen" clocked in at nearly two hours and 45 minutes, cutting down signficantly on the possible number of showtimes.

The movie also sold out on all 124 IMAX screens that played it over the weekend, making it the second largest opening behind "The Dark Knight."

The mostly strong reviews and biggest opening numbers of 2009 give Snyder even more credibility among comics fans, since he successfully - although not without some flaws and criticism - adapted one of the most acclaimed and complicated graphic novels ever, one that had previously been considered "unfilmable" by some.

I think we can expect to see more from Snyder and more R-rated film adaptations of graphic novels with more mature, complex themes. I'm guessing Neil Gaiman's acclaimed "Sandman" might be one of the next ones to get on the development fast-track.

Features writer Heather Warlick:Some industry analysts say that while the opening was strong, it could have been better. Many critics say that the movie is too long, clocking in at just under three hours. I am not a big comic book movie person, so the movie doesn't appeal to me so much. One fun factoid: iPod Touch and iPhone has a "Watchmen: Justice is Coming" app that you can download for about the same price as you can buy a share of CitiBank, and it's probably a better investment.

2. New Kids on the Block are back together and they're playing Tulsa's BOK Center tonight. What are the best and worst band reunions in your opinion?

Triplett: The worst band reunion I can think of is when the surviving members of INXS reunited for the reality show, "Rock Star: INXS" in 2005, an elaborate series of televised audition s that resulted in an Elvis impersonator from Canada named J.D. Fortune becoming the band's new lead singer, replacing Michael Hutchence, who had committed suicide by hanging himself in 1997. A once respected and respectable band traded on its past glories and sold out to junk TV.

The greatest reunion had to be Cream, for me at least. I was lucky enough to witness that great moment in rock history at Madison Square Garden in October 2005. Here was one of the original supergroups, proving they were still worthy of the label, with Jack Bruce still nimble - fingered enough to play the bass guitar like a lead instrument, Ginger Baker still a force of nature with his complex, jazz influenced drumming, and both of those guys lighting a much-needed fire under Eric Clapton, who was forced to rise to the occasion with the most incendiary playing he'd offered up in 35 years. His solo work since leaving Cream, Blind Faith and Derek & the Dominos behind has been pretty lackluster in my opinion.

McDonnell: I love it that Led Zeppelin are back together and performing with John Bonham's son.

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