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Kevin Smith says 'Watchmen' is astounding (insert 'but' here)

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–Written by Jeff Jensen

While comic book aficionados wonder if Warner Bros. will release its controversial superhero flick Watchmen as scheduled next March, one famous fan of the groundbreaking graphic novel says he’s seen Zack Snyder’s $100 million opus, and judging from his reaction, it appears all the fuss the film has stirred up is worth it.

Clerks helmer Kevin Smith (pictured) — who apparently was invited to see the film at Snyder’s invitation shortly after Comic-Con last month — has posted an unabashed rave for Watchmen over at MySpace: “I saw Watchmen. It’s f—ing astounding. The Non-Disclosure Agreement I signed prevents me from saying much, but I can spout the following with complete joygasmic enthusiasm: Snyder and Co. have pulled it off. Remember that feeling of watching Sin City on the big screen and being blown away by what a faithful translation of the source material it was, in terms of both content and visuals? Triple that, and you’ll come close to watching Watchmen.”

Of course, depending on how you felt about Sin City, Smith’s assessment may or may not strike you as impressive. So EW.com asked Smith — currently prepping his R-rated lewd laugher Zack and Miri Make A Porno for a Halloween premiere — to expand just a smidge: “My God, the flick is amazing.” Okay. And? “Anything more and I start getting phone calls.” Fair enough.

Smith’s gush might be encouraging for those who’ve long doubted that even a good film could be distilled out of Watchmen’s dense, complex story, let alone one that’s “f—ing astounding.” But there is still reason to worry: as EW reported in July, Snyder is currently endeavoring to trim a nearly three-hour version of Watchmen (which is believed to be the iteration Smith saw) down to two hours and 25 minutes, the studio’s desired running time, even though Snyder’s preference is that the movie be released as long as possible.

addCredit(“Kevin Smith: Brian Ach/WireImage”)

In the wake of Twentieth Century Fox’s lawsuit against Warner Bros. over Watchmen’s distribution rights — a complaint that seems to be valid, based on available court documents — some fans fret that Snyder might be asked to cut even more to improve its chances at being profitable. The angsty logic, expressed on a different geek hub message boards, goes like this: if Warner Bros. has to settle with Fox, or is forced to share revenue with Fox, the $100 million movie becomes even more expensive for Warner Bros. Sure, Watchmen might be great at 145 minutes, but if it’s good enough at a shorter length, which could generate an extra showing per screen, per day, that’s more money for the studio. (We tried to run that bit of thinking past Snyder himself, but he declined to comment.)

As Watchmengate — perhaps the priciest whoopsie! in Hollywood history — continues to obsess fans and bloggers, there’s been much speculation about how much money might be at stake here. The Hot Blog’s David Poland at moviecitynews.com theorizes that Warner Bros. might have to fork over $25 million to settle with Fox. Then again, Fox might get even more if it becomes a profit participant in the film, provided the movie does blockbuster business, and especially if Fox gets dealt in on after-theatrical revenues like DVDs. Indeed, Warner sources indicated to EW last month that the property’s above-average potential as an ancillary media cash cow was a big reason why Warner Bros. greenlit the picture. Already, the studio could milk Watchmen for at least three different DVDs: the already-announced The Black Freighter companion disc, an animated film based on the graphic novel’s comic-within-a-comic; the theatrical version of the film; and possibly a separate director’s cut that restores Snyder’s three-hour vision and integrates the Black Freighter story into Snyder’s narrative, a kind of “absolute edition” of Watchmen: the movie the director is very keen on making available to fans.

Regardless, even Kevin Smith believes that no matter how the Warner Bros./Fox flap resolves itself, fans will be able to see Watchmen on March 6, 2009. “Nah,” Smith tells EW.com. “There’s no way that situation doesn’t get ironed out.”

In the wake of Twentieth Century Fox’s lawsuit against Warner Bros. over Watchmen’s distribution rights — a complaint that seems to be valid, based on available court documents — some fans fret that Snyder might be asked to cut even more to improve its chances at being profitable. The angsty logic, expressed on a different geek hub message boards, goes like this: if Warner Bros. has to settle with Fox, or is forced to share revenue with Fox, the $100 million movie becomes even more expensive for Warner Bros. Sure, Watchmen might be great at 145 minutes, but if it’s good enough at a shorter length, which could generate an extra showing per screen, per day, that’s more money for the studio. (We tried to run that bit of thinking past Snyder himself, but he declined to comment.)

As Watchmengate — perhaps the priciest whoopsie! in Hollywood history — continues to obsess fans and bloggers, there’s been much speculation about how much money might be at stake here. The Hot Blog’s David Poland at moviecitynews.com theorizes that Warner Bros. might have to fork over $25 million to settle with Fox. Then again, Fox might get even more if it becomes a profit participant in the film, provided the movie does blockbuster business, and especially if Fox gets dealt in on after-theatrical revenues like DVDs. Indeed, Warner sources indicated to EW last month that the property’s above-average potential as an ancillary media cash cow was a big reason why Warner Bros. greenlit the picture. Already, the studio could milk Watchmen for at least three different DVDs: the already-announced The Black Freighter companion disc, an animated film based on the graphic novel’s comic-within-a-comic; the theatrical version of the film; and possibly a separate director’s cut that restores Snyder’s three-hour vision and integrates the Black Freighter story into Snyder’s narrative, a kind of “absolute edition” of Watchmen: the movie the director is very keen on making available to fans.

Regardless, even Kevin Smith believes that no matter how the Warner Bros./Fox flap resolves itself, fans will be able to see Watchmen on March 6, 2009. “Nah,” Smith tells EW.com. “There’s no way that situation doesn’t get ironed out.”

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