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Superhero blockbuster Watchmen gets London launch

THE US$120 million comic book adaptation "Watchmen," one of 2009's most eagerly awaited films, premiered in London yesterday, aiming to repeat the success of superhero hits like "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight."

The red carpet launch of the special effects-laden action thriller is the culmination of years of to-ing and fro-ing over scripts, budgets and, finally, a legal dispute between rival Hollywood studios.

Directed by Zack Snyder, whose "300" was a box office winner in 2007, Watchmen is based on a 1986 comic book series of the same name written by Briton Alan Moore and illustrated by compatriot Dave Gibbons.

As with other movies based on his stories, Moore has distanced himself from the film, which hits cinemas in Britain and the United States on March 6.

Asked if Moore was likely to watch the movie, deemed "unfilmable" by some in the business, Snyder told Reuters: "Look, you know Alan has famously said 'I don't want anything to do with it' and I just try and respect that as much as I can."

Watchmen is set in an alternate 1985 United States, where the "Doomsday Clock" charting US tensions with the Soviet Union, is permanently set at five minutes to midnight.

When one of his former colleagues is found murdered, masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all superheroes, both past and present.


The film contains scenes of sex and violence, earning it an R rating in the United States meaning under-17s can only see it with a parent or adult guardian, limiting its commercial potential.

Snyder said the success of "300", his ultra-violent depiction of the legendary battle between Spartans and Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C., had given him more freedom.

"I think that '300' really helped us to say, okay, look, it can be rated R."

The fate of the film was in doubt until last month, when studios Warner Bros and News Corp's Twentieth Century Fox reached a settlement in a copyright infringement dispute.

Warner Bros, a unit of Time Warner Inc, produced the film, but Fox sued Warner last year to stop its release. Fox, which acquired the rights to the "Watchmen" story in 1986, claimed it had a continuing stake in the project.

Warner was also behind The Dark Knight, the Batman sequel which was last year's biggest grossing film globally with ticket sales of US$1 billion.

"Iron Man", starring Robert Downey Jr., was another superhero hit grossing US$582 million worldwide, according to ticket tracking site


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