Studio had hoped for the pic to transform into a March tentpole and match, or best, the $70.9 million opening of Zack Snyder's previous film "300," which bowed on the same frame in 2007.
"Watchmen's" running time, however, was 2:40 before trailers. At that length, theaters couldn't play as much runs of the pic as they did "300," which ran under two hours.
"Watchmen," based on the iconic graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, played heavily to fans, i.e., males between the ages of 17-34. After that, "Watchmen" appeared to have some trouble broadening out. Pic was considered a hard R, because of its graphic violence and sex.
"Watchmen's" 124 Imax runs were sold out throughout the weekend. Imax runs accounted for $5.5 million; the circuit's best opening weekend number after "The Dark Knight" ($6.3 million).
"Watchmen" nabbed the third highest March opening, and the fifth highest opening ever for an R-rated film.