Update on Tales of the Black Freighter

Tales of the Black FreighterWatchmen fans, get ready. The New York Times has it that Warner is planning a unique promotional strategy that looks to please the book’s fans. The Zack Snyder (300) directed flick is set for a March 2009 debut, and it will be followed, five days later, by the retail DVD release of Tales of the Black Freighter.

Snyder will also direct Freighter, depicting the eponymous comic-within-a-comic seen throughout the Watchmen series, about a castaway making his way back to shore to warn his family about the freighter, which carries the souls of the damned. The comic’s plot parallels the events in the lives of Watchmen‘s main characters.

This marketing strategy is aimed at driving up DVD sales and the accompanying retail foot traffic after a 3.2% drop last year. DVD sales, according to the article, represent 70% of a film’s gross revenue, so the tactic is one of many aimed at saving a struggling industry.

The Freighter DVD will “also include a documentary-style film called ‘Under the Hood’ that will delve into the characters’ backstories.” Fans of the comic will note that “Under the Hood” was the title of book written by Hollis Mason (Nite Owl I of the Minutemen), so it’s possible that this will be an “in-universe” documentary, similar to (and largely drawn from) the graphic novel’s contextual copious contextual matter.

But this is not just a cheap marketing scheme. Snyder originally requested a budget of $20 million for Freighter, but the request was denied. The film will be animated, and will still have a budget of 30%-50% more than a normal direct-to-DVD feature. The studio is also planning a dozen webisodes for the uninitiated called The Watchmen Motion Comic that will amount to little more than a narrated slideshow of the comic’s panels (because, apparently, reading comics is too much for people nowadays).

After the Black Freighter DVD release, Watchmen will see DVD release, with an “ultimate” edition following that will compile both films into one “megamovie.” “The überfans of this property are going to go crazy for that,” Snyder commented. But I’d guess the studio is hoping the “überfans” aren’t smart enough to wait for the final edition, or this business plan could be worthless (as a marketing plan). As a fan, this is far from worthless. Sure, it’s been tried before (The Animatrix?), but rarely, if ever, has the secondary release tied in so intimately with the primary feature.

Related posts: Zach Snyder set to direct Guardians of Ga’Hoole animated kid-flick, Watchmen character photos online, Tales of the Black Freighter… anime? (updated), Justice League, Where the Wild Things Are set for 2009

Posted on May 27, 2008 at 17:26 by JasonS@MovieMakeout · Permalink
In: News · Tagged with: , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2008-05-27 at 21:18

    The Black Freighter DVD release is going to be a rental for a lot of people, I think.

    EDIT: I updated the article to include a paragraph on the “Under the Hood” documentary, which I think is worth noting.

    Also worth noting is Ain’t It Cool News’ photo of the Minutemen from the film, which looks pretty spot-on, whether or not you like film’s take on the present-day characters’ costumes.

  2. Written by Pete
    on 2008-05-28 at 07:45

    Rental it is. Choke and Watchmen news back to back? Thanks, guys.

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