Watchmen debuted in first place over the March 6 weekend, taking in an estimated $55.7 million on approximately 7,500 screens at 3,611 theaters, BoxOfficeMojo reported.
Watchmen's opening was the biggest opening of 2009 so far, but it fell a bit short of expectations and paled in comparison to Snyder's last film, 300, which set the March opening record, with $70.9 million on around 4,800 screens at 3,103 sites (which included $3.6 million at 62 IMAX venues).
But the $150 million adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel notched the 12th-highest-grossing opening weekend for a comic-book movie, behind Fantastic Four (though it drops to 20th when ticket-price inflation is factored).
Opening in the greatest number of theaters ever of any R-rated movie, Watchmen also had the sixth-highest debut for an R-rated movie, behind The Matrix Reloaded, The Passion of the Christ, 300, Hannibal and Sex and the City.
Watchmen was the sole new nationwide release of the weekend, so grosses were mostly business as usual beneath it. The bottom fell out for Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, which dropped 71 percent to an estimated $1.4 million, for a total after 10 days of just $7.1 million.