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Watchmen was an unmade film adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons 1985 maxi-series Watchmen that was to be written and directed by David Hayter, who signed on to write the script in late 2001. Others associated with directing the project included Darren Aronofsky and Paul Greengass.
- Main article: Watchmen (David Hayter script)
Set in the early twenty-first century, the United States of America is at war with the Middle East.
During the pre-production of the project, actors Simon Pegg and Daniel Craig were each involved in talks about playing Rorschach. Jude Law, who is a self-admitted Watchmen fan, expressed interest in playing Adrian Veidt. John Cusack was also considered for the role of Nite Owl II, and Sigourney Weaver was rumoured to be in talks for Sally Jupiter. According to Greengass, he wanted Joaquin Phoenix for the part of Doctor Manhattan.
By October 2005, the producers were in talks with Warner Bros, which was the second studio to have been originally attached, to adapt . In December, Levin and Gordon confirmed that the project was set up for production, but Greengass had dropped out of doing the film and instead filmed United 93. As a result, the film was marked as an "open writing assignment," and this meant that the Hayter script would be set aside. In spite of the changes in direction, Hayter hoped to adapt his "dream project."
Although Zack Snyder signed on to direct the film adaptation for a Spring 2009 release, Hayter was credited as a co-screenwriter alongside Snyder and Alex Tse, and a number of his ideas are present in the final product.