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Pre-Production Art from The ‘Watchmen’ Movie That Was Almost Set in the 00s

Let’s face it, the “Watchmen” movie was a “love it or hate it” movie (or a “That’s totally a naked blue dude”), but what if we told you things could’ve been a lot different? CBR‘s Kiel Phegley recently nabbed an exclusive interview with Dominic Watkins, who, along with director Paul Greengrass (he of “The Bourne Supremacy” and “Ultimatum” fame), was pegged to be the lead production designer for a big screen adaptation of “Watchmen” before Zack Snyder and Co. were handed the reins.

According to Watkins — who shared books filled with damn-near-close-to-being-filmed pre-production art — he and Greengrass’ vision of the now pretty much proven un-filmable superhero epic would’ve differed greatly from Snyder’s final product, including setting the movie in the 00s rather than the Cold War era. Check out more concept after the jump.
Noting that they were originally offered the gig back in 2005, Watkins recalls:

“At that time, I thought ['Watchmen'] was very poignant because it was written under the backdrop of Reaganism and all that in America and the Cold War being in full effect. I thought that the political climate from Bush was escalated to a similar point, with us on the brink of something quite catastrophic, so I thought making a version of ‘Watchmen’ that was more contemporary and applying it to the decade of the ’00s was a good idea and was a lot more relevant than it turned out to be. I think the difference between Zack Snyder’s ‘Watchmen’ and ours would’ve been night and day. He pretty much made the movie page-to-page from the graphic novel. Ours was definitely going to be based on the graphic novel and all the characters would’ve been drawn on that, but we’d have updated it somewhat.”

Watkins also notes that he and Greengrass planned on a more “documentary-style” film following the exploits of The Minutemen in wake of the murder of The Comedian, but realizes that — no matter the case or vision — “Watchmen” would’ve been a hard sell:

“I think from the point of comic book enthusiasts, we might have pissed off some people, but even some of the real purists were pissed off that Snyder’s wasn’t close enough to the original. I just thought it wasn’t anything original, and ours was going to be an original take on it while trying to do as much justice to the graphic novel as possible.

According to Watkins, he and Greengrass were “about a week away” from actual filming and building a set at Pinewood Studios — a fullscale rendition of Manhattan’s dingy west side — and also points out that their visual effects team had begun tests on how Doctor Manhattan would look in the adaptation (“At that point I’d imagine [Paramount] spent at least two or three million,” he adds), but when the film rights moved from Paramount to Warner Bros., Greengrass opted out of the project for “Flight 93,” thus leaving Watkins off the project:

“I’d say ‘Watchmen’ was a great learning experience, and I found it quite inspirational. I was very disappointed when we didn’t make the movie and didn’t get to do what we’d worked hard on for months.”

There’s tons more behind-the-scenes stories over at CBR, who also point out that Watkins’ next project will be a remake of another Reagan-era Cold War epic, “Red Dawn.”

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