It's already calling itself the movie adaptation of "the most celebrated graphic novel of all time," but if a certain group of masochistic fans have their way, "visionary director" Zack Snyder's version of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' comic may also be the longest comic strip movie ever made - But is the general public ready for three hours of watching the Watchmen?We've previously told you that Snyder is apparently fighting the studio over the length of his movie, but now a fan petition has appeared online attempting to help Snyder in his fight. The petition, entitled simply CAMPAIGN FOR 3 HOUR WATCHMEN MOVIE FROM WARNER BROS, exists to try and put pressure on Warner Bros. to release an almost full-length (Snyder has previously mentioned a full 210-minute cut of the movie) version of next summer's much-hyped masterpiece:

We, the ‘Minutemen' below, respectfully demand a 3 hour running time for the forthcoming movie ‘Watchmen' from Warner Bros. Directed by Zack Snyder (300, Dawn of the Dead), Watchmen is a film adaptation of what is widely regarded by comic fans as the greatest superhero story ever... As with any movie Warner Bros have a responsibility to make ‘Watchmen' a commercial success and to appeal to a broad audience, many of whom will not be familiar with the story – and therein lies the issue. While discussions with WB studio executives are ongoing about the running time of the movie, there is pressure to ensure that it comes in at below 2hrs and 50 minutes. We, the ‘Minutemen' below, submit that Watchmen must be a 3 hour movie and ask WB to respect and extend the courtesy of this longer running time to the giant of all superhero stories.

That's right, people. The people behind the petition have already come up with their own fangroup identification, just like Trekkies, Browncoats and People-Who-Want-To-Have-Sex-With-Ewoks (Admittedly, that last one isn't very catchy). But that's not all they've come up with; they've also worked on reasons why this film shouldn't be edited down to a reasonable length:

1. The Watchmen experience isn't just about big events and characters in the story, it's also about small things, the ‘minutiae'. Minor characters and their dramas are part of the meticulously constructed whole - removing any one piece of Watchmen means losing part of its essence 2. Some tough choices have already been made and elements of the story have had to be left out. Previous draft screenplays from David Hayter and Alex Tse have shown the difficulties in making such decisions. Cutting down the movie further will only dilute Watchmen and its potential value as a unique experience for cinema audiences in 2009 3. Watchmen is a landmark work in the graphic medium which is venerated by comic fans and respected by the literary establishment. No other comic book series has ever been accorded such status, for this reason it should be treated with the level of respect any great epic literary work is afforded, not like the average superhero movie. A longer running time of 3 hours, which allows the story to breathe, will tease out what makes Watchmen truly great and different to any other superhero movie released so far. 4. There is only one opportunity for Warner Bros and Zack to get this right. There will be no sequel to Watchmen - it is a stand alone work. Cutting down the running time because of conventional views about audiences having short attention spans could be disastrous. No one wants a Watchmen movie that is rushed, incoherent and ultimately forgettable. Recent years have shown there is great appetite among the cinema-going public for dark, epic heroic stories which are LONG (Lord of the Rings, the Dark Knight, King Kong, etc.) and of great quality. 5. Zack Snyder and WB are waiting to hear how much we want a 3 hour movie. In an interview with MTV on 12 August 2008 Snyder stated that he is interested to see how much online support there is for a 3 hour running time (source: http://www.mtv.com/movies/news... "Right now it runs at around two hours and 50 minutes", He stated, "I just don't want to lose any story line, because you know eventually that's what happens. You start to have to cut characters out, and I just don't want to do that".

It's an interesting series of arguments, especially because... well, they don't really stand up to that much attention. For example, don't the first and second points contradict each other? "You can't cut something out of Watchmen without destroying the whole thing, and they've already cut a lot out've Watchmen." Doesn't that mean that they've already undercut the integrity of the story, and the entire argument is pointless?

Leaving aside the third and fifth points as pretty much useless (The third being "It's an important book, so don't cut anything out," which seems to miss the point that almost all - if not all - adaptations of famous works of literature have had swathes of material cut from them when adapted into movies, and the fifth point being less an argument for not cutting the movie as a random statement), that seems to leave the fourth point as the crux of their argument... which is somewhat unfortunate, in that it's blatantly untrue. "There is only one opportunity for Warner Bros and Zack to get this right"? Which opportunity are they referring to? The theater release of the movie? The DVD release, that was already planned to be longer? The inevitable "Director's Cut" DVD that would follow that one, if the original DVD was successful enough? These days, it's not as if there's only "one" version of any movie anymore, so the idea that there's only one opportunity for any movie to "get it right" is ridiculous. And what does getting it right actually mean, anyway? Making the best movie you can? Being slavishly devoted to the source material, even if it means the movie is overlong? If you're going to demand that something be done "right," it's worth trying to come to some kind of agreed definition of "right" beforehand. I'm tempted to start another petition about the Watchmen movie. I could call it something like CAMPAIGN FOR A GOOD WATCHMEN MOVIE FROM WARNER BROS, and the body of the text would go something like this:

We, the people who sign this petition below, would like to ask that Watchmen is whatever length it needs to be to make sense and be successful as a movie as opposed to a piece of fan service. Ideally, we'd like that to be less than three hours because, come on, three hours for a movie? That wasn't any fun for any of the Lord Of The Rings movies, and at least they didn't feature radioactive glowing blue men showing off their man junk. Most people don't really like long movies; look at Robert Downey Jr.'s reaction to The Dark Knight. Do you really want to make a movie that'll confuse Robert Downey Jr. even more than The Dark Knight?

[CAMPAIGN FOR 3 HOUR WATCHMEN MOVIE FROM WARNER BROS]