Watch Out! The Watchers or The Watched? What Are We Watching: Livewatch

The Watchers, the feature directorial debut of M. Knight Shyamalan’s daughter Ishana Shyamalan, is coming soon to Irish cinemas. The film began production in Galway in summer 2023, and wrapped principal photography in September of that year.

The film stars Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds) as Mina, a 28-year-old artist, as she gets stranded in a forest in western Ireland. After finding shelter, she becomes trapped alongside three strangers, stalked by mysterious creatures each night. The film also stars Olwen Fouéré (All You Need is Death) and Georgina Campbell (Barbarian). The Watchers will be released on June 7th 2024, and also it is called The Watchers. Isn’t it?

It was until late April certainly. Ireland/UK press releases and social media posts for the film released by producers Warner Bros as recently as 24th April still referred to The Watchers as The Watchers. It’s about monsters watching people. Watchers, you might say.

And yet I was startled to see a poster for the film at a recent cinema trip that clearly called the film The Watched. It’s about some people being watched by monsters. People that are Watched, you might say.

This was particularly alarming, having just submitted an article for another publication in which I frequently and exclusively referred to the film as The Watchers. Had I gotten the name of the movie wrong? Am I so unobservant? Yet a Google search still seemed to only be showing results where The Watched was being called The Watchers. To get to the bottom of this, diligent research* was required.

*bothering people

The film is based on the 2022 novel by Galway writer A.M. Shine, The Watchers. Neither Warner Bros nor A.M. Shine’s representatives responded directly to comment on any potential reasons for this name change. Further online digging showed though that the name has been changed in the UK/Ireland market, with The Watchers title remaining in the US and other areas. This is usually to avoid clashing with a similarly titled property well-known in the area, like Penneys being called Primark in other countries.

‘THEY ARE WATCHING’ are they. Is there a noun for people who do that.

An invitation from Warner Bros to attend the press screening of the film did not open a line of communication, as they again did not respond to further questioning on the matter, besides perhaps, a mental note to take my name off the Warner Bros mailing list.

All was not lost however. An anonymous source from the production responded to enquires to provide a simple, satisfying explanation. Focus group testing found that UK/Ireland based viewers were confusing the film with Ryan Murphy series The Watcher. The Netflix series follows a married couple played by Bobby Cannavale and Naoimi Watts who, after moving into their dream home are harassed by creepy letters signed by a stalker calling themself “The Watcher”.

The series did particularly well in UK/Ireland, and although it has been renewed for further seasons, production has stalled into 2025. There’s every possibility that Ishana Shyamalan’s horror could find itself on streaming platforms like Netflix before another season of this show coming out, leading to fans of The Watcher watching The Watchers thinking it’s connected to what they had watched only to find that a follow up to The Watcher wouldn’t be what they’re watching. Warner Bros were not willing to sit back and watch The Watchers watchers wanting to watch The Watched on their watchlist, be found wanting and not know what to make of it, not on their watch, so now The Watchers is The Watched. All very straightforward in the end, if difficult to say out loud.

You can watch The Watched in Irish cinemas from this Friday. I think this is a trailer for it?

Where to watch Watcher

About Luke Dunne

Luke is a writer, film addict and Dublin native who loves how much there is for film fans in his home county. A former writer for FilmFixx and the Freakin' Awesome Network, he founded Film In Dublin to pursue his dual dreams of writing about film and never sleeping ever again.

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