Director Terry Gilliam is one of cinema’s great oddities. He's one of the great visionary directors working today, but he's more well known for the films that fell apart on him, as opposed to the ones that he's actually made. One of Gilliam’s most infamous unrealized projects is an adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal comic book miniseries, Watchmen.
In the ‘90s, Gilliam was tapped to direct the movie, which at the time was thought to be unfilmable. Working from a script by Sam Hamm, who also wrote 1989’s Batman, Gilliam’s version of Watchmen was close to the source material in terms of tone, but it would change many of the details radically, including the controversial ending. However, Gilliam had trouble distilling the book down to its essence and keeping the script of a reasonable length, while still making a marketable product for the studio.
In the end, budget concerns and an impenetrable source material killed Gilliam’s Watchmen before any traction could be made on it. In one last effort, he did try to pitch it as a five-hour miniseries, but it was one of those ideas that was too logical for Hollywood to listen to. Though Zack Snyder’s version ended up as a serviceable, it not overly reverential, homage to Moore’s original work, we still feel that Gilliam’s Watchmen could have been a comic book classic.