HBO is moving forward with Watchmen.
The premium cable network has officially handed out a pilot order and commissioned additional scripts for Damon Lindelof’s take on Alan Moore’s beloved graphic novel.
The news comes three months after The Hollywood Reporter broke that the Leftovers showrunner was developing a take on the DC Comics favorite. Lindelof also revealed on Instagram that the writers room for the potential TV series has officially been opened.
Lindelof originally read the comics as a kid in the 1980s and has said that the series continues to influence his work. “From the flashbacks to the nonlinear storytelling to the deeply flawed heroes, these are all elements that I try to put into everything I write,” he told Comic Book Resources in 2009 ahead of the feature-film take. Lindelof has read Watchmen multiple times and, at the time, praised director Zack Snyder’s film. “It’s the most married-to-the-original-text version of Watchmen that could’ve been made,” he told the Observer. “I want to keep it sort of insular,” Lindelof said, referring to the multiple translations that have come from trying to translate the source material. “It’s OK with me if people don’t understand it because they don’t deserve to understand it.”
Snyder, who directed the feature-film adaptation of Moore’s comic series, is no longer attached to the drama project from Warner Bros. Television, where both DC Entertainment and Lindelof are housed.
First published in 1986 and collected in 1987, Watchmen was created by Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins. The series was named one of the 100 best novels by Time magazine. Rumors of HBO tackling Watchmen first surfaced in 2015, when the pay cabler noted it was in preliminary discussions for a TV take on the property.
Snyder, who was briefly attached to the HBO project in 2015, adapted the comic and brought the title’s “Minutemen” crime fighters to the big screen in 2009 with Jackie Earle Haley, Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson starring. The film, produced by Warner Bros. with a $130 million production budget, grossed a disappointing $107.5 million domestically and $185.3 million worldwide.
A Watchmen TV series would further expand HBO’s place in the comic book business and offer a potential heir apparent to the premium cable network’s fantasy drama Game of Thrones, which has one short-order season remaining. AMC has found success with The Walking Dead and Preacher, while FX has Noah Hawley’s X-Men take Legion, which is already renewed for a second season. The comic book expansion has also gone far on broadcast after ABC, The CW and Fox found success with DC and Marvel fare including Agents of SHIELD, The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Gotham, among others. Hulu recently picked up Marvel’s The Runaways, Freeform has New Warriors and ABC next has The Inhumans as well as another season of Agents of SHIELD, while Marvel continues to have multiple series in the works at Netflix.
For Lindelof, Watchmen would arrive after The Leftovers, based on the book of the same name, recently wrapped its three-season run on HBO. The Lost alum is repped by CAA and Myman Greenspan.
Moore, meanwhile, announced his retirement from comic books last September, noting that “I think I have done enough for comics. I’ve done all that I can.” On the big screen, his work has been adapted into the features From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta and Batman: The Killing Joke. On the TV side, Fox tried in 2013 to adapt Gentlemen for the small screen. The drama did not move beyond the development stage.