It has been a long journey for fans of the Snyder Cut movement for Zack Snyder's Justice League. Officially announced in May 2020 by Zack Snyder that it was moving forward, the project will be released on HBO Max on March 18, 2021. Tony Goncalves, Head of HBO Max, said in June that the decision-makers “need to listen” when consumers are speaking.
Sarah Aubrey, HBO Max Content Head, saw Zack Snyder's Justice League as “already a success given the press we've had around it.” However, an excerpt from an upcoming book, documenting the lead up to the Snyder Cut's release, points to these two thoughts being the opposite years ago when Snyder attempted to convince executives about the Snyder Cut movement.
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Excerpts from Sean O'Connel's book Release the Snyder Cut: The Crazy True Story Behind the Fight That Saved Zack Snyder's Justice League have been released, documenting the story behind the push for Zack Snyder's Justice League. In particular, one section notes Warner Bros.' reaction to fans who would push for The Snyder Cut on unrelated social media posts and promotions.
When discussing the Snyder Cut movement's social media presence, Zack Snyder himself couldn't help but laugh, as the fans would appear on anything that Warner Bros., Warner Media, or HBO Max posted online.
One specific example that Snyder recalls is when HBO Max tweeted a promotion for Sesame Street, to which the campaign descended upon without mercy:
“Their websites, their Twitter, their everything ...they were paralyzed. They were literally paralyzed,” he said. “They could make no release. They could talk about nothing. I was talking to an unnamed executive who said that [HBO Max] would tweet something about Sesame Street, and people would be like, 'Fuck Elmo! Release the Snyder Cut! That was the world they lived in. And they were like, 'Jesus Christ, what are we supposed to do? We can't function!' That's pretty rad.”
Zack Snyder also spoke about the presence of the Snyder Cut movement at Comic-Con in 2019:
“It was during, I think, [2019's] Comic-Con where there was an article written that said, 'The biggest Warner Bros. and DC presence at Comic-Con this year is for a movie they'd never released.' Which I was like, 'Holy shit, that's amazing.'”
When Snyder spoke to Warner Bros. about the possibility of releasing a completed version of his Justice League, he used this campaign as a major justification:
“We did all these analytics. And when we went in to talk to Warner Bros. about possibly releasing the movie, I said to them in the boardroom, 'You realize, I don't know if you're aware of it, but the biggest, the most volume for any social media campaign for any movie Warner Bros has ever done is for a movie that you guys never released. The most tweets, the most social media noise in the history of Warner Bros. is for a film that you guys don't have out.'”
At the time, Warner Bros. wouldn't budge or move forward with the project, despite these persistent pocket of fans online:
“And at that stage in time, had no intention of releasing. In what world is that okay? In what world does the business model support this point of view? It just seems insane. And you know, apparently that didn't fall on deaf ears.”
Snyder went on to argue against Warner Bros. point of these just being a “vocal minority” of fans, saying that if that's the case, why Warner Bros. couldn't garner an equally loud demographic for any of their other films:
“But it's just a hard thing to argue with...They would say things like, 'Well, it's just a vocal minority. It's just a small amount of people. I'm like, 'Okay, fair enough. If that's what you want to say. But if that's true, and it's not that big of a deal, how come you guys, a giant media corporation, cannot generate the same number of social media impressions as this vocal, grassroots minority that aren't that big of a deal?"
Snyder even suggested to Warner Bros. to hire people from the movement, since they knew how to “volumize” one of their products, which wasn't even released:
“How come you wish, in your best-case scenario, you could volumize one of your products in the same way that this handful of people, so you say, can do it? And if it is (just) a handful of people, you should have them working for you because they are unbelievable at their jobs. At their hobby, actually! Because none of them are getting paid for it.”
FANS WEREN'T DECIDING FACTOR
It's apparent from how Zack Snyder talks about speaking with executives at Warner Bros. that they weren't swayed by The Snyder Cut movement and dismissed them as a vocal minority. Large online impressions, especially for such a concentrated campaign, unfortunately don't automatically translate into profit.
More and more it seems like the ongoing pandemic was the true deciding factor in Zack Snyder's Justice League moving forward. It would also explain the sudden change in plans for the movie to be released as a four-part series, rather than a singular 4-hour film, which is now the case. Due to Warner Bros. now releasing their entire 2021 slate on HBO Max, there was no longer any need for Zack Snyder's Justice League to be spread out.