What had to be cut at the last minute to keep Watchmen watchable

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST
Hollis Mason (Stephen McHattie, left) and Dan Dreiberg (Patrick Wilson) reminisce.

Watchmen director Zack Snyder said that the final cut of the movie's theatrical release runs about 2 hours and 37 minutes, and that he had to omit a favorite sequence from the graphic novel to get it to that length. (Spoilers ahead!)

In adapting Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' classic graphic novel to the big screen, Snyder found he had to remove portions of the book to keep the film to a manageable length. One of the last sequences to go was the death of Hollis Mason (Stephen McHattie), the original Nite Owl, on Halloween night.

"We have, you know, the whole thing with the Top Knots [a gang distinguished by their samurai-style haircuts] are mad, and they go over to his place and kill him," Snyder said in a group interview in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Wednesday.

Cutting that scene, a brutal beating, also necessitated cutting a companion scene in a bar involving Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) and Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson). "They see on the TV [that] Hollis Mason died," Snyder said. "And so then, you know, Dan goes and beats up the Top Knot that's in the bar, and, like, knocks the teeth out, and it's really violent and cool."

Earlier cuts of the film were running longer than 2 hours and 40 minutes. But cutting the scene pained Snyder, who has otherwise tried to be as faithful as possible to the graphic novel. "Though I love him, you know?" he said. "And, also, ... I also reshot ... the phone call between Sally [Carla Gugino] and Hollis as well. ... There's that long phone call that they have right before, actually, he's killed. So those kind of came out sort of modularly. ... So that was a bit of a bummer for me, because ... I like that stuff. ... It's ... big. It's a lot of time."

Snyder promised to restore the shots and other material into one of several longer cuts that will eventually appear on DVD and Blu-ray home video releases once the movie finishes its run in theaters. Watchmen opens March 6.