We have to wonder if Warner Brothers is having a bit of buyers remorse on Sucker Punch, the next film from “visionary director” Zack Snyder. Even before Watchmen was released, it seemed like a dicey proposition for the studio to get behind: an R-rated, $100 million, 1950s-set action film that Mr. Snyder has described as “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns.” Alrighty, then! About the only thing Sucker Punch had going for it was the cast, a group of up-and-coming actresses that could become the next generation of major female movie stars—Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Hudgens, Emma Stone and Evan Rachel Wood. Well, now that cast has gotten one smaller, as Ms. Seyfried, who had been set to play the lead, was forced to drop out due to the dreaded “scheduling conflicts.” There is no word yet on who will replace her, but expect her to be young and blonde. (This is Alice in Wonderland after all.)
Sucker Punch is scheduled to start filming this fall, and Warner Brothers has already earmarked October 8, 2010, as its release date. Now, maybe we’re being a bit cynical, but if all of that actually happens according to plan, we’ll be shocked. We understand that the studio is still counting all the money they made on The Dark Knight, but we can’t see how it would be fiscally responsible for them to push ahead with Sucker Punch, especially in the wake of Watchmen. Whether Mr. Snyder bungled the film creatively is unimportant—for the record, he produced a perfectly mediocre adaptation of a perfectly mediocre comic book. What is important, however, is the economics of it all. Watchmen, under any metric, has been an outright disaster. The film has been out for 18 days and will probably just barely squeak past $100 million at the box office later tonight. By the end of its run, Watchmen will be lucky to top out at $115 million. Considering Mr. Snyder’s film cost at least $150 million to produce, plus the untold millions that were spent on marketing—not to mention the legal fees that Warner Brothers had to pay even to release the film—$115 million won’t even pay for a DVD featurette on Dr. Manhattan’s penis.
And after all that, we’re supposed to believe that Warner Brothers is going to give Mr. Snyder another hundred million to waste away on a hyper-stylized, hyper-violent film? One, we might add, without a built-in audience (it’s an original script) and no major movie stars. The mere thought of it is ridiculous. The studio would have a better chance of making money if they owned AIG stock. Let’s just say we won’t be writing Sucker Punch‘s October 8 release date down in pen.