Watchmen: Open Letter to the Fans from Screenwriter David Hayter

David Hayter is the screen writer for Watchmen, and he is concerned about the reaction and reception of the film. He wrote this Open Letter to the fans and movie patrons alike to give some insight, or explanation on the film.

I am sharing it here as a favour to get the word out. Read what you will into it.

Hardcore Nerdity received this:

So it has been five months since I saw my first rough cut of WATCHMEN, and eight days since the premiere of the film I’ve been working on since late in the year 2000.

The reviews are out — Some outstanding, others rankly dismissive, which can be frustrating for the people involved, (though I can only speak for myself,) because I firmly believe that WATCHMEN, the novel, must be read through more than once to even have the faintest grip on it. And I believe the film is the same.

I’ve seen it twice now, and despite having run the movie in my head thousands of times, my two viewings still don’t’ allow me to view the film with the proper distance or objectivity. Is it Apocalypse Now? Is it Blade Runner? Is it Kubrick, or Starship Troopers? I don’t know yet.

All I know is that I had a pretty amazing experience the two times I’ve seen it. And both viewings produced remarkably different experiences. The point is, I have listened for years, to complaints from true comic book fans, that “not enough movies take the source material seriously.” “Too many movies puss out,” or “They change great stories, just to be commercial.” Well, I f***ing dare you to say any one of those things about this movie.

This is a movie made by fans, for fans. Hundreds of people put in years of their lives to make this movie happen, and every one of them was insanely committed to retaining the integrity of this amazing, epic tale. This is a rare success story, bordering on the impossible, and every studio in town is watching to see if it will work. Hell, most of them own a piece of the movie.

So look, this is a note to the fanboys and fangirls. The true believers. Dedicated for life.

If the film made you think. Or argue with your friends. If it inspired a debate about the nature of man, or vigilante justice, or the horror of Nixon abolishing term limits. If you laughed at Bowie hanging with Adrian at Studio 54, or the Silhouette kissing that nurse.

Please go see the movie again next weekend.

You have to understand, everyone is watching to see how the film will do in its second week. If you care about movies that have a brain, or balls, (and this film’s got both, literally), or true adaptations — And if you’re thinking of seeing it again anyway, please go back this weekend, Friday or Saturday night. Demonstrate the power of the fans, because it’ll help let the people who pay for these movies know what we’d like to see. Because if it drops off the radar after the first weekend, they will never allow a film like this to be made again.

In the interests of full disclosure, let me also point out that I do not profit one cent from an increase in box office, although an increase in box office can add to the value of the writers’ eventual residual profits from dvd and tv sales.

But I’m not saying it for money. I’m saying it for people like me. I’m saying it for people who love smart, dark entertainment, on a grand, operatic scale. I’m talking to the Snake fans, the Rorschach fans, the people of the Dark Knight.

And hey, if you hated the film, if you think we committed atrocities, or literary mistakes of a massive, cephalopodic nature. If the movie made you a little sick to your stomach, or made you feel bad about your life. If you hated it for whatever reason, that’s cool too. I’m not suggesting you risk gastro-intestinal distress just for the sake of risky filmmaking.

But if you haven’t seen it yet? Well, I’ll just say this…

It may upset you. And it probably will upset you.

And all along, we really meant it to.

Because face it. All this time…You there, with the Smiley-face pin. Admit it.

All this time, you’ve been waiting for a director who was going to hit you in the face with this story. To just crack you in the jaw, and then bend you over the pool table with this story. With its utterly raw view of the darkest sides of human nature, expressed through its masks of action and beauty and twisted good intentions. Like a fry-basket full of hot grease in the face. Like the Comedian on the Grassy Knoll. I know, I know…

You say you don’t like it. You say you’ve got issues. I get it.

And yet… You’ll be thinking about this film, down the road. It’ll nag at you. How it was rough and beautiful. How it went where it wanted to go, and you just hung on. How it was thoughtful and hateful and bleak and hilarious. And for Jackie Earle Haley.

Trust me. You’ll come back, eventually. Just like Sally.

Might as well make it count for something.

David Hayter

My first instinct was that this was a plea to get more boxoffice draw, but considering the source I got it from I really think his altruistic message is just sharing his point of view. I don’t think he would have offered this up to me if he didn’t believe it was legit.

He hits on an idea that I have shared but could never put into words like he does. I refer to it as “vote with your dollar” People ask how Meet the Spartans gets made, and in a nutshell it does because it will rake in cash. I love how Hayter hits on this and speaks my feelings like I couldn’t quite get out. If you want more movies like this, the opportunity for change is right in front of you. If this flops financially it tells Hollywood we want more Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Disaster Movie.

So what of it? How do you feel about Hayter’s open letter? Do you agree? Disagree?

Does he have a point?

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