The long-debated “Snyder Cut” of the 2017 DC Entertainment film, Justice League may finally be available thanks in part to HBO MAX, the new streaming service set to debut at the end of May.
In 2016 the Snyder found himself on top of the world with Warner Bros. entrusting its universe of DC characters to one filmmaker — him. Since his Man of Steel, Snyder began building toward the great onscreen team-up, even though his plans were met with some bumps in the road. Man of Steel grossed $668 million worldwide and was then followed up with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the 2016 blockbuster that polarized fans with its dark take on the iconic titular heroes and took in $873 million globally.
When plans for Justice League began in January of 2017, Snyder says he had what he considered his optimal version of Justice League, clocking in at four hours long. At the time he knew it was something the studio would not release, as Warners wanted a cut in the two-hour range, and he delivered a rough version with an approximate 2 hour and 20-minute run time. The two sides came out of that initial meeting agreeing that there was much work still to be done before the November release. It was then that tragedy struck for the Snyders when their daughter, Autumn, died by suicide. A month and a half later, Zack officially stepped away from the film and Whedon was brought into finish.
After his departure, Joss Whedon was named the replacement director and substantially reshot and retooled the movie from Snyder’s original vision. The film opened to weak reviews and sluggish box office, eventually taking in $658 million worldwide. This almost immediately created the #ReleasetheSnyderCut movement as fans unhappy with the final version of the film took to social media and created the now-infamous hashtag. A Change.org petition was even started calling for Warners to release Snyder’s version which garnered over 100,000 signatures less than five days after the movie’s release.
In the time since its release, and poor performance at the box office, something unusual happened: A growing movement of fans, rallied by the hashtag #ReleasetheSnyderCut, called, agitated, petitioned — even going as far as buying space on a Times Square billboard and chartering a plane to fly a banner over Comic-Con, all calling for Snyder’s version to be released.
In 2019 on the day of the film’s second anniversary, the hashtag had its biggest day ever as movie’s stars Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck adding their voices on Twitter in favor of the release.
Two days later, the agent for director Zack Snyder and his wife and producing partner, Deborah Snyder, announced that Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures, was acknowledging the movement, and more importantly, was willing to accede to the version of the film being released. The pairs agent said that Emmerich asked if, “This is real. People out there want it. Would you guys ever consider doing something?”
While his question was not answered immediately and whispered rumors and secrets for months were out there, an answer was finally revealed today. At the end of an online screening of his 2013 movie, Man of Steel, Zack Snyder confirmed, that his version of the Justice League was indeed real. And that it will be coming to HBO Max, the WarnerMedia digital streaming service launching May 27, and is expected to debut in 2021.
With this announcement, there are still many questions that remain specifically what form Snyder’s Justice League will take. While the format of the release has yet to be decided, two main formats are a possibility. The first would see the film released as an almost four-hour director’s cut, while the second would split the film into six “chapters.” These questions aside, the Snyders are now in the midst of reassembling much of their original postproduction crew to score, cut, add new and finish old visual effects, and, yes, maybe bring back many of the actors to record additional dialogue.
Zack Snyder in and interview with The Hollywood Reporter, said that with the caveat that to this day, he has not watched the version released in theaters and basing his judgment on what has been shared with him of Whedon’s version.
“It will be an entirely new thing, and, especially talking to those who have seen the released movie, a new experience apart from that movie. You probably saw one-fourth of what I did.”
Snyder also added,
“I always thought it was a thing that in 20 years, maybe somebody would do a documentary and I could lend them the footage, little snippets of a cut no one has ever seen before Emmerich came calling.
This version of the fim that fans wanted technically didn’t exist. What did exist was a semi-unfinished work, with no visual effects, no postproduction and only one person who had seen it and described it ‘like a car with no panels, just a drivetrain and some seats.’ For years it sat on a hard drive in the Snyders’ house.
“When we left the movie, I just took the drive of the cut on it,I honestly never thought it would be anything,” ” said Snyder.
Deborah Snyder added to her husband’s comments,
“With the new platform and streaming services, you can have something like this. You can’t release something like this theatrically, but you could with a streaming service. It’s an opportunity that wasn’t there two years ago, to be honest.”
The year following their daughter’s tragic death, the Snyders closed circles around their family as they tried to heal and became involved in suicide-prevention charity work.
“As a family, as a couple, I think we have grown in a way that has made us stronger. We’re doing our best. You really can’t hope for more.” commented Zach.
“The first year was about the milestones and the holidays. Now, it’s not those but other moments, like songs that trigger memories, that hit me unexpectedly.”
As the Release the Snyder Cut movement continued to grow, Snyder fed into the movement by occasionally teasing images from his movie or storyboards on social media, in some ways only stoking the hot embers that already were there as he was forced to see some of the seeds he planted in his movies, such as the castings of Gadot as Wonder Woman and Momoa as Aquaman, grow into gardens and blockbuster spinoffs.
After the green light was given in Feburary of 2017, the Snyders put together a presentation and, in early February, invited a select group of executives from Warner Bros., HBO Max, and DC to their house in Pasadena to screen Zack’s little-seen version in black and white. The number of executives in the room — there were more than a dozen in attendance, ranging from Warners’ Emmerich, Carolyn Blackwood, Walter Hamada and Courtney Valenti to HBO Max’s Kevin Reilly, Sarah Aubrey and Sandra Dewey to DC’s Jim Lee — showed the importance of the potentially extensive undertaking. Heads of physical production and business affairs were there to assess what needed to be done and how much it would cost. At his presentation after the screening, Snyder outlined ideas for not just releasing the cut but the concept of episodes and cliffhangers.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and Hollywood all but shut down in mid-March, Deborah Snyder told THR,
“People thought, ‘It won’t be possible to ramp up, and that maybe this should go on the back burner.’ But we said, ‘No, this is the right time’ because our visual effects houses that rely on so much are running out of work, so now is the time to be doing this.” It also helped that many of those post facilities had held on to the original assets.
Snyder also spent April and May reaching out to the sizable cast, giving a heads-up on the new development and letting them know their services may be needed.
While there is no schedule going forward at this stage for the project, talks are now beginning with post-production houses, which also gives HBO Max plenty of time to find the best way to present this version of Justice League.
The cut will contain the many elements Zack has teased over social media, expect Darkseid, the duo also relishing in adding a fair amount of character development that they believe is missing.
“What’s so lovely about this is that we get to explore these characters in ways that you’re not able to in a shorter theatrical version. This return to that pedigree and to let my singular vision of my movie be realized, in this format, in this length, is unprecedented and a brave move.” said Zach.
The Snyders know that fan power is what led to the Snyder Cut becoming a reality.
NEWS WATCH: HBO MAX to Release “Snyder Cut” of JUSTICE LEAGUE
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