A couple of weeks ago Moviehole brought us the news that Zack Snyder had gotten Warner Bros to cough up the dough to allow him to shoot the Tales of the Black Freighter segments from Watchmen. This pirate comic within a comic are not integral to the main plot of Watchmen, but rather comment on the themes and characters in the story, so it was always the first thing cut out by screenwriters taking a crack at the material. Now a scooper has given me more info about what the possible plans are for the Black Freighter: according to my source, there’s talk of doing the pirate story in animation*, and releasing it on DVD at the same time that Watchmen is in theaters.
Snyder told me at Comic Con that he wanted to do the Black Freighter 300 style. Could the change to animation be to get around the strike (animation writers are under the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) for some reason, not the WGA)? The idea of releasing it on DVD at the same time the movie is in theaters (if true – repeated attempts to confirm or deny this story with Warner Bros bore no fruit) is sort of weird – other films have seen animated tie-ins show up in stores, but Black Freighter has just about zero to do with the main Watchmen story. Would this confuse casual fans?
Meanwhile, another exciting development is happening on Watchmen, one that will expand the depth of the film and add some of the detail that just can’t be fit into a movie. Readers of the comic know that writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons packed Watchmen with background and back story detail that creates a rich and rounded world, including text pieces at the end of every issue. A number of the text pieces take the form of excerpts from Under the Hood, the memoirs of Golden Age crime fighter Nite Owl, telling his own history and that of the original hero team The Minutemen. Picture this concept: while doing promotion for the book, Nite Owl appears on a newsmagazine show which profiles him, his career and his friends in The Minutemen. Just such a newsmagazine show is being filmed, and it’s being done in period early 60s style, reflecting the release date of the book in the Watchmen universe. Apparently this will be a full hour long. I don’t know what the plans for this are – I have to imagine it will be on the DVD release, which is rumored to be a mega-packed set. This would actually make more sense as a day and date DVD release to promote the movie, as far as I’m concerned, but it would probably also give away too many story points to the uninitiated, as the secret history of The Minutemen has a major impact on the characters in the main story.
Again, I couldn’t get either of these stories confirmed or denied by Warner Bros, and the animated Black Freighter is something that’s not a done deal at the moment and could still change, but my source is a damn good one.
*No relation to Watchmen Babies in V For Vacation