The New York Times reported today that in an effort to revive their flagging DVD sales, Warner Bros will be releasing a DVD on 03/10/09 (that's five days after Watchmen hits theatres) that will include Tales of the Black Freighter, and Under the Hood. The latter is, of course, Hollis Mason's tell-all about his life as the Nite Owl.
At some point in the future, Warner Bros plans to release an "ultimate edition" of the film that will splice Tales and Hood in, which means you will have one heck of a marathon. Says Zack Snyder himself, "The überfans of this property are going to go crazy for that."
Snyder was eager to participate in Warners direct-to-DVD plan because it was the only way he could feasibly film everything. "I thought the Black Freighter story would never see the light of day," Snyder says. "The main picture is nearing three hours long and I know I have a fight on my hands just with that." The director's original plan was to tell the Black Freighter story in the film, 300 style, but the studio balked at the $20 million budget.
It's a win-win situation for everyone at this point. And because Warners knows, deep down, the majority of non-fans will not be lured into a theatre upon merely seeing a tie-in DVD on a store shelf, they are also planning a series of "Webisodes." Each webisode of The Watchmen Motion Comic will run about twenty minutes, and be a panel-by-panel slideshow of the graphic novel, narrated by an actor. This is a pretty sad commentary on modern literacy, isn't it? These too will appear on DVD at some point, for those still unwilling to crack open a book.
I continue to be impressed with the fight Snyder has put up for this movie -- and that Warner Bros is realizing that it is a property worth the deluxe treatment. Even if they are only seeing the financial angle, they appreciate that it is a graphic novel loaded with potential. That's almost good enough for me.