In a move as twisted and clever as the film itself, it's been revealed that Warners and director Zack Snyder are planning to release the animated Tales of the Black Freighter, the separate tale that forms part of the Watchmen opus, on DVD only four days after the film hits cinemas.
Watchmen will be the live-action adaptation of what journalists are contractually obliged to call "the Citizen Kane of comic books" (not without justification). While the main story concerns a bunch of aging ex-superheroes investigating the death of one of their own, the Black Freighter story appears in the background: a bit-part character reads comics telling the story of a man trying to save his town from marauding pirates, and these comics are reprinted amidst the main Watchmen thread. Confused? We recommend having a read (or several) of the Citizen Kane of comic books to get your head around it.
Warners plans to release Tales of the Black Freighter, which will be fully animated, on DVD on May 10 2009, just after the live-action (or as close as a Zack Snyder film gets) Watchmen's release on May 6. Warners and Snyder envisage three DVD releases for the Watchmen brand, therefore: this first Freighter release, the main movie some four months later, and an "ultimate" edition with the two spliced together after that. Buyers, be warned.
Rather worryingly, the New York Times story above claims that Warners sees Watchmen as a potential new movie franchise, which fans of the book may see as blasphemy. Still, the fact that they're treating the Black Freighter in this rather clever ways gives us hope, so fingers crossed they get Watchmen right first time, and then leave well enough alone.