Watchmen sequels, prequels and spin-offs?
The talk of a Watchmen (Filmstalker review) sequel has been around the Internet, and I really didn't think it was much of a story, but I've finally decided to write something about it and put my usual down to earth spin on things.
Sites are rumbling with the news that there could be another Watchmen story, and perhaps a franchise, but these are leaps beyond leaps, and so far the speculation is only about the comic side.
The word has been that the President of DC Comics, who own the Watchmen rights, has always said no more Watchmen because the original has done so well, continues to do well for them, and anything more may well diminish the original work, and apparently he's keeping sides with the original authors - see Alan Moore, they aren't all bad - personally I think it's the danger of losing revenue on the original and potentially losing out on a lot of fans.
Well now Paul Levitz is stepping down as the big cheese over at DC Comics, and according to Bleeding Cool through Empire, the Senior Vice President-Executive Editor (everyone in American businesses seem to be vice presidents of something) Dan DiDio is wanting to start up a franchise off the back of the comic book and film success.
There's no source given, no quote attributed, it's just the author who "understands" that this is a pet project of the man and that he wants to impress DC Comics senior management by taking Watchmen and building a bigger revenue stream from it, meaning comic prequels and spin-offs.
Okay, so that's the first hurdle. Not that I'm doubting the guy, it's just very sketchy at the moment, and even if these are the personal desires of the man heading into the position, let's realise that he may not make it a reality, after all apparently it's his personal project at the moment, and that might mean no one at DC is even aware of it...until now.
The article then says that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons have first refusal of the story before anyone else can be offered, and if this is true then they're bound to say no. Or they'll get a crack, deliberately sabotage it, and the project will move on after some time to someone else. Apparently, according to the article, that's what DiDio has been pre-empting, finding new authors willing to do it.
So, a lot of speculation of "personal projects" and desires, and events in their very early stages. Let's be realistic here, if it ever got off the ground what we're talking about are comics and graphic novels so far, not another film, that's a long way away if this all really does happen.
Mind you it's not the first time other authors have continued Moore's work, and the other thing to bear in mind, if this is legitimately what's going to happen, is that prequels and spin-off's were mentioned.
Okay, so chances are, if all this were to really happen and something gets written, sold, is a success and makes it through to the filming stage, It's hard to see how a sequel would work.
With a sequel there's more pressure on you to get the original actors to return, and that means a big budget on a project that could be a big risk going against the fan community. The safest bet is a prequel, and it's much easier to replace actors in that case, the audience are far more forgiving and accepting of that. The other thing to consider is that a sequel has decimated the Watchmen world we knew.
Talking purely film-wise here, spin-off's don't have a great legacy, look how well the X-Men ones are performing, I think this would go to a prequel and we'd see the characters taking up their various roles, perhaps in the first incarnation of the Watchmen, and if that were to happen it's easy to recast all the roles since they weren't really in the first film.
A prequel franchise could cover the first round of Watchmen and work through to the formation of the second team, by which time we'd have so much distance from the first film we'd accept recasting much easier, and through to their disbanding and break-up, all ready for the original Watchmen (Filmstalker review) to be re-released.
You know on paper that doesn't sound half bad, however I'd like some concrete evidence before we really start believing it.