Put this firmly into the "might not be true" category of your brains, and then take it with an additional grain of salt. I hesitate to even spread this further because it is unverified, but I think it's worth discussing. And hey, maybe someone who caught the movie might weigh in.
There was a test screening of Watchmen last week. And according to the gang at /film, the buzz is building that the ending of the graphic novel has been changed in the movie. Devotees of the book remember that Ozymandias engineers a giant alien squid in order to destroy New York, an event so horrifying that it stops the world in its tracks, and deflects a nuclear war with Russia. According to a few members of the test audience, the faux-alien is nowhere to be found. Instead, Ozymandias' plot involves a machine he builds with Dr. Manhattan which mimics Manhattan's powers, and sets off atomic-bomb like attacks all over the world.
It's very perplexing, as there have been numerous reports that the ending remained unchanged. Patrick Wilson laughed off reports, as have numerous cast members. An unofficial set report confirmed the squid's appearance. Zack Snyder insisted it was left intact, despite that it was an unorthodox one for a movie. So many reports confirming the squid would tip the balance against the test audiences.
However, in the interest of fairness to those movie-going spies, Collider's recent interview with Kevin Smith suggests the whispers might be true after all. "It's a little different. While it is a slight departure, it actually makes sense in the context of the story because it brings the characters back into it. It kind of makes the movie more about them by the end of it because of the switch they made. I would never say that Alan Moore f***ed it up or something. I love the ending of the Watchmen comic book, but I think this ending works just as well."
Now, Smith's answer depends on what "a little different" means -- and I wouldn't consider the new ending to fall into the category. It's impossible to know, but it's worth talking about. If the intent of the ending remains the same, does it matter how the movie puts it into play? I'm going to take the view that it does, merely because so many story threads do weave into the creation of that squid. Take that away, and how many plot-lines are shifted? It doesn't make sense, not when Snyder has stressed how faithful his adaptation is. It doesn't fit what we've seen so far. But whatever the case, the streak of hardcore geek in me wants to know before March of 2009.