By Mack Chico
“Watchmen,” the superhero epic from Warner Bros. and its partners, led the movie box-office through another strong weekend but stopped short of peaks hit by some of its predecessors.
The film, directed by Zack Snyder and based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, had an estimated $55.7 million in ticket sales, easily outpacing the weekend’s second-place film, “Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail,” from Lionsgate, which took in about $8.8 million at the domestic box-office for a total of $76.5 million to date.
“Watchmen” was handicapped by its unusually long running time of nearly 2 hours 45 minutes. Longer films get fewer showings in each theater through the course of a day.
The movie was also stung by the ambivalence of critics and fans, many of whom came to it with expectations based on a familiarity with, and often deep reverence for, the complex illustrated story of damaged crime fighters being hunted by a killer.
“Everyone around me liked it a lot more than I did,” said James Thompson, who teaches a course in genre film, television and comics.
Oddly, though, his doubts may bode well for Warner. Thompson said that he and others he knows expected to see the film again this week, to reassess an opinion that he said may have been colored by his own history with the illustrated series. Repeat customers are definitely gravy.
Also in the top five at the weekend box office were “Taken” at No. 3 with $7.5 million, “Slumdog Millionaire” at No. 4 with $6.9 million and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” at No. 5 with $4.1 million.