The Watchmen side story Tales of the Black Freighter will receive its own direct-to-DVD release five days after the main movie hits theaters on March 6, 2009, according to the NY Times.
Director Zack Synder has plans to release at least three Watchmen DVDs in total — first the Black Freighter standalone offering, followed four months later with the main movie release, and finally an “Ultimate Edition” which would have both films edited together into one large extended version, which would match the storyline of the Watchmen comic book by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Originally, the filmmakers had planned to include Black Freighter, which will feature the voice of 300‘s Gerald Butler, as an animated short on Watchmen‘s eventual DVD release (see Gerard Butler Leads Watchmenâ€™s â€˜Tales Of The Black Freighterâ€™ DVD Short).
At first, the Black Freighter was to come to life in the same visual style as Snyder’s 300, but budget constraints put an end to that. Snyder revealed that he feared this storyline would never be told, especially since the length of the main movie is pushing three hours.
“I thought the â€˜Black Freighterâ€™ story would never see the light of day,â€ he said. â€œThe main picture is nearing three hours long and I know I have a fight on my hands just with that.â€
The Black Freighter companion DVD is part of Warner Bros.’ “parallel content strategy” to gather more sales for the main film, as well as kickstart a potential Watchmen movie franchise. The Black Freighter DVD will also include a documentary-style film called Under the Hood that will go into detail about the Watchmen characters’ back stories.
To also help viewers understand the characters, Warner Bros. will released 12 Webisodes called The Watchmen Motion Comic — 22- to 26-minute-long panel-by-panel slideshows of the graphic novel, which will be narrated by an actor. Snyder said that these Webisodes will probably be combined for later release on DVD.
Speaking of the Watchmen characters’ history, AICN has an exclusive photo of the Minutemen, the superhero team formed in 1939 who were the precursors to the Watchmen. The photo shows Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, Captain Metropolis, Mothman, Silhouette, the Comedian, Dollar Bill, and Hooded Justice. Check out the photo here at top right and click to be brought to the larger image.