Was Watchmen doomed from the start? The post-mortems begin

Edward Blake's corpse isn't even cold yet, and already the pundits are taking apart Zack Snyder's Watchmen and asking: Did it go wrong and how?

It feels like the talking heads are circling the body like vultures in the wake of the movie's less-than-stellar opening weekend, though the jury's still out on the movie's ultimate success. Key will be how the movie performs this coming weekend and how much the box-office take drops off.

Of course, some of us saw this coming: Last October, our writer Jeff Otto came up with 10 reasons mainstream audiences would stay away from the movie. Our Feb. 24 review, meanwhile, was one of the first to suggest that being too faithful to the graphic novel was a weakness.

Now comes columnist Nikki Finke, whose Deadline Hollywood blog looks at the film's prospects going forward with eyes as cold and unforgiving as Rorschach's.

Will Watchmen have legs? "It's way to soon to tell," an anonymous studio mogul tells Finke. "What counts is where a film finishes, not where it starts." Among other things, the creators have already talked about the many different home-video releases planned, which could boost the bottom line significantly.

Even if it continues to make money, there are lots of hands out, especially in light of Fox's settlement with Warner Brothers over the rights to the movie.

Finke also takes a look at the film's $50 million marketing campaign, which some have argued didn't do enough to sell the movie to nonbelievers.

"I hate to think that, after two f--king years of marketing, we're a one-weekend movie," a Warner Brothers executive told Finke. But that may be what happens. "It's impossible to change course now," a studio executive says about Watchmen's long reluctance to even explain what the film is about in its movie trailers and TV ads. "The time to do that was in the last 10 to 12 days before the opening."

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