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Snyder Announces Watchmen Cast & More at Comic-Con

Filmmaker Zack Snyder (300), who is set to direct Warner Bros. Pictures' feature film adaptation of the award-winning graphic novel WATCHMEN, announced the cast and release date (March 6, 2009) of the highly anticipated epic before 6,500 fans during a presentation at this year's Comic-Con International convention in San Diego, California.

Playing the film's core group of "masks," the masked adventurers at the center of the story, are Malin Akerman (THE HEARTBREAK KID) as Laurie Juspeczyk, aka Silk Spectre; Billy Crudup (THE GOOD SHEPHERD) as Jon Osterman, aka Dr. Manhattan; Matthew Goode (MATCH POINT) as Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias; Jackie Earle Haley (LITTLE CHILDREN) as Walter Kovacs, aka Rorschach; Jeffrey Dean Morgan (TV's GREY'S ANATOMY) as Edward Blake, aka the Comedian; and Patrick Wilson (LITTLE CHILDREN) as Dan Dreiberg, aka Nite Owl.

A complex, multi-layered mystery adventure, the R-rated WATCHMEN is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the "Doomsday Clock" --which charts the USA's tension with the Soviet Union -- is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed-up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion -- a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers -- Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity...but who is watching the watchmen?

Snyder revealed that WATCHMEN will neither be a greenscreen or next-gen movie a la 300, nor will it attempt to closely reproduce the visual look of the landmark Alan Moore graphic novel. However, there will be plenty of CGI, including Dr. Manhattan being performance captured similarly to PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN'S Davy Jones, and Mars, if it stays in the movie. As for the pirate tale, Snyder is hoping to get the extra budget to shoot it for a longer cut on DVD.

Snyder, who is currently collaborating with production designer Alex McDowell (FIGHT CLUB, MINORITY REPORT, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, BEE MOVIE), will start shooting soon in Vancouver, with New York City being recreated on a backlot. The director praised McDowell's work with David Fincher and is, in fact, seeking a gritty, urban, naturalistic, SEVEN-style look to complement the dysfunctional nature of the characters. Indeed, the "prince of pop culture" is having a blast combing iconic memories of the mid-'80s with his keen production designer on their visual narrative journey. In keeping with the graphic novel, WATCHMEN will be very self-reflexive. An homage to DR.STRANGELOVE'S War Room, for example, will resonate on so many cultural and ideological levels while still remaining organic to the narrative..WATCHMEN will be produced by Lawrence Gordon (DIE HARD), Lloyd Levin (UNITED 93) and Deborah Snyder (300), with Herbert W. Gains serving as exec producer.

WATCHMEN was originally published by DC Comics as a 12-comic book series between 1986 and 1987, before subsequently being collected into a trade paperback. It is the only graphic novel to win the prestigious Hugo Award or to be named among Time magazine's "100 Best English Language Novels from 1923 to the Present."