Hollywood analysts will have their eyes on “Watchmen” when it opens in theaters Friday.
According to USA Today, studio executives are wondering whether the film can broaden its appeal beyond the rabid fanbase and become a hit. The film is expected to take in $50 million at the box-office this weekend, but with a budget of $120 million, it will take a strong box-office run to break even and/or be declared a hit.
“I’m not sure it’s an unabashed home run,” said Anne Thompson of Variety.com. “If you’re not familiar with the graphic novel, people may feel like they’re on the outside looking in.”
After the success last year of “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight,” “Watchmen” will have big shoes to fill in terms of box-office success. And the film does have some factors the could keep it from reaching “Iron Man” like box-office numbers. One is the film’s rating. The movie is R-rated, while last summer’s comic book fare was PG-13. “Watchmen” also boasts a lesser-known cast and has no marquee names. “Iron Man” had Robert Downey, Jr. and “Dark Knight” had the momentum of the first Batman reboot.
Of course, “Watchmen” has at least one ace up its sleeve: director Zack Snyder, who took another brutally violent graphic novel in “300″ and turned it into a smash in 2006.
“They said ’300; was going to be a flop, too,” said Gerard Butler, the star of the sword-and-sandal epic. “Zack made me what I am today. I’ve got no doubt he’s going to do it again.”
So far, the appetite for “Watchmen” appears ravenous. Ticket reseller Fandango reports that nearly two-thirds of the company’s sales this week are for “Watchmen” tickets.
Even competing studios are braced for a hit. “I think it’s going to be huge,” said Steve Rothenberg of Lionsgate. “If you look at the big movies this year, it’s not with A-level stars getting $20 million paychecks.”