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Box-Office Casualty Report: The Rock Rolls Over the Watchmen

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It's official. With a staggering drop of 67% from last week, Watchmen, bedeviled by mixed reviews, a punishing running time of nearly three hours and an ad campaign that seems to freeze out audiences who don't know or give a damn about the Alan Moore comic book, took in a scant $18 million compared to last weekend's solid-but-not-sensational $55 million. Translation: the blockbuster train has left the station. To add insult to box-office injury, Watchmen got whacked by The Rock, the former wrestler who now goes by his thespian name of Dwayne Johnson. The weapon The Rock (excuse me, Mr. Johnson) used to pound Watchmen is a puny Disney adventure flick called Race to Witch Mountain, a chunk of family pablum that took in $25 million. Disney reports that 18% of the audience consisted of adults NOT attending with children, a factoid that scares me deeply. Get a life, people. Or at least a better movie. Couldn't you have joined the folks at Sunshine Cleaning, which did surprisingly well in a limited run? Hell, there was more action watching Jon Stewart ambush CNBC's financial guru Jim Cramer on Comedy Central than you'll find in all of Witch Mountain. More point as well. But the question remains: Who really whacked Watchmen? The movie's enemies accuse director Zack Snyder of arrogance in going his own dark way. Supporters say audience taste is currently so debased that anything smart and/or ambitious scares away the escapist-hungry public. What's your final verdict?

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Peter Travers

Rolling Stone senior writer Peter Travers has reviewed movies for the magazine for more than 20 years. Send your comments and questions to him here.

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