'Watchmen' on Duty at Warner Bros.

By Borys Kit
Publication: Book Standard
Date: Monday, December 19 2005
Watchmen, the seminal DC Comics limited series created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, has found a home at Warner Bros. Pictures.

The project has landed at the studio with original producers Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin?but not with screenwriter David Hayter and director Paul Greengrass, who were with the project when it was let go from Paramount in June.

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The development of the movie has turned out to be almost as epic as the story the comic tells. Hollywood had for years been trying to bring the 1986 comic book series to the big screen. Joel Silver brought the project, which remains the only wholly owned DC Comics property to have ever left the fold, to Larry Gordon when the latter was based at Fox, where Terry Gilliam was developing a Sam Hamm-penned script back in 1989. Watchmen first landed at a studio in 2001, when it was set up at Universal with Hayter on board to adapt and Gordon, who holds the rights, producing.

Gordon and Universal parted ways over creative differences, and in July 2004, the project found its way to Paramount with Hayter still on it as writer. At the same time, Darren Aronofsky came on board to develop and direct the movie.

When scheduling conflicts arose with The Fountain, Aronofsky bowed out in November 2004, and Greengrass, riding high on his hit The Bourne Supremacy, came on as director. Hayter's script was still the blueprint.

The movie came close to getting made earlier this year. Crews were building sets in London, casting lists were being made?Jude Law and Hilary Swank were rumored to be in the mix?and a summer start date was being scheduled. But the Paramount regime change, the movie's high price tag and its dark tone contributed to it being put into turnaround in June. Gordon at the time vowed that he would find the project a home.

For Watchmen to make Warners its home is somewhat fitting as parent company Time Warner owns DC Comics and the studio is releasing V for Vendetta, which is based on another Alan Moore comic book. Vendetta was adapted by the Wachowski brothers, who also are producing along with Grant Hill and Silver, and is scheduled for a March 17 release.

The studio is talking to directors and is looking for writers. Starting from scratch is not being ruled out. Paramount has the right of first refusal to co-finance the eventual picture.

Jessica Goodman is overseeing for Warners.

Watchmen is one of the most critically acclaimed series in the genre. The comic is credited for redefining the superhero genre and often is referred to as the War and Peace of comic books. It is a crime-conspiracy story that provided the first realistic look at the behind-the-heroics lives of superhero archetypes. In November, the graphic novel was the only nonbook on Time magazine's list of the 100 best novels since 1923.

Set in an alternate America, Watchmen follows the costumed hero Rorschach, who is living a vigilante lifestyle because most masked heroes have retired or been outlawed. While investigating a murder, he learns that a former masked-hero colleague has been killed, prompting him to begin investigating a possible conspiracy.

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