Nerd Alert: Watchmen to Save DVD Sales?

Warner Bros. is trying to prop up softening DVD sales with a new strategy to promote its upcoming superhero feature film Watchmen. The studio will release a separate a side movie based on the original film on DVD only, prior to the main Watchmen hitting theaters.

The New York Times writes that DVD sales fell for the first time last year — a drop that has retailers and studios nervous as DVDs can drive as much as 70 percent of the revenue for a new film. Warner Bros.’ plan would generate three separate DVD release opportunities for Watchmen (the side movie, the original film and a bundling of the two), pushing retail sales and promoting a (hopefully) new franchise for the studio.

For those of you who actually went on dates in high school, Watchmen is a gritty, superhero comic book graphic novel. A side story within the comic was a historical drama called “Tales of the Black Freighter.” Warner’s will create an animated movie of “Black Freighter,” and release it along with a documentary-style movie on DVD five days before Watchmen hits theaters.

There are a couple problems with this plan. First, it props up a dying technology and a physical product instead of moving us further to digital downloads — no more shiny discs! I understand Warner Bros. is making good with retailers after the studio said it would release all films this year on VOD day-and-date with DVD, thereby potentially impacting DVD sales, but three separate releases is just bilking fans.

Second, no offense to Watchmen, which was a ground-breaking, brilliant story, but “The Black Freighter” part of the book was bo-ring (fanboys, feel fee to flame me in the comments). It’s not indicative of the main movie and could turn noobs off.

One thing Warner Bros. is doing that’s smart is a series of Watchmen webisodes in advance of the movie that are basically slideshows of panels from the original comic with narration. There are no DVDs to buy and it’s an entertaining way to understand the source material.

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