The Snyder Cut from ‘Justice League’ is a gamble for Warner Bros.


League of Justice

Warner Bros. photos

The highly anticipated four-hour director’s cut of “Justice League” hit HBO Max on Thursday.

Assembled from hours of unused footage and cut together with freshly shot scenes, the Snyder Cut is an anomaly in the entertainment industry. Fueled by a longtime fan-driven social media campaign, Zack Snyder got a second chance to create his version of “Justice League.”

WarnerMedia, which is owned by AT&T, saw the fervent crusade for the official cut of Snyder’s film as a way to appease ardent fans and fill its HBO Max streaming service with exclusive content.

However, the risk is that the “Justice League” will not recoup the dividends that WarnerMedia needs. The film sets sequels that DC fans may never get to see, which means that even if it manages to attract subscribers during the month of March, there is no promise of new DC-related content on the horizon for the streaming service. keep those new. inscriptions around.

Initial estimates put the price of Snyder’s second shot at $ 20 million to $ 30 million because many of the computer-generated images were unfinished. However, more recent estimates suggest that WarnerMedia could have shell out $ 70 million or more on the project, as Snyder brought in multiple actors to shoot new material. It’s unclear if that figure includes marketing spend.

WarnerMedia declined to comment on the project’s financial terms.

The cost could be justified if WarnerMedia uses the film to gain subscribers and encourages enough current subscribers to stick with the service, broadcast and media analyst Dan Rayburn said.

What may help is that HBO Max has several high-profile releases hitting its platform in March and early April. On March 31, “Godzilla v. Kong” hits the service, and on April 16, “Mortal Kombat” will be released. Each will spend about a month on HBO Max before heading to video on demand for a rental fee.

This strategy of having a steady, steady stream of new content can help retain subscribers.

And then there are the fans. While Snyder and DC Films President Walter Hamada have said that this updated “Justice League” will not create spin-offs or automatically set up a sequel, the film allows Warner Bros. to win back some goodwill.

Fan service

“I definitely think the fans will be pleased,” said Erik Davis, Fandango’s managing editor.

Davis, who got to see the new “Justice League” before its release on HBO Max, said the Snyder Cut is a “much better version of the movie.”

The Snyder Cut basically erases co-writer and co-director Joss Whedon from the film. Whedon came on board after executives objected to Snyder’s initial film cut and took over when Snyder left the project after his daughter’s death.

Whedon shortened Snyder’s 214-minute cut and infused it with moments of lightness, something Warner Bros. wanted to mimic the comedy style that was successful in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Because Whedon’s version altered much of Snyder’s work, fans have clamored to see the director’s cut of “Justice League,” believing it to be the purest version of the film. In May 2020, WarnerMedia granted them that wish and invested in bringing Snyder back to finish it.

Ezra Miller, Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot star in “Justice League.”

Source: Warner Bros.

While fans will be delighted to finally get the Snyder cut, there is a major flaw at Warner Bros. ‘We plan to release this movie.

When Snyder was developing “Justice League” more than five years ago, the DC Extended Universe was expected to continue to expand with this cast in the same way that the MCU had developed. The solo movies would become team movies together. Ben Affleck was supposed to have his own freelance role and Snyder was already talking about a “Justice League” sequel.

However, that plan is completely different in 2021. DC fans will likely never see all of the cameos and settings in the Snyder movie cut.

Affleck may be associated with the next “Flash” movie, but it is unknown if he will put the hood on in any DC projects after that. Not to mention, Warner Bros. has already moved on with a new Batman movie starring Robert Pattinson, one that doesn’t connect to any of the previous movies released by the studio.

As for Superman, Henry Cavill is still attached to the role, but it is unclear when or where the character will appear next.

And Ray Fisher, who played Cyborg, has a deteriorating relationship with the studio. The actor accused Whedon of harassment on set and an investigation was conducted. Fisher also had harsh things to say about DC director Hamada, who he claimed helped enable Whedon’s actions.

As such, Fisher has said that he will not participate in any films associated with Hamada. Therefore, Warner Bros. would have to reprise the role if they wanted to bring Cyborg back into the fold for a team movie.

Warner Bros.’ The decision to fund and launch this new “Justice League” may appease fans, but it does nothing to promote the franchise’s cinematic universe.

Disney, which owns Marvel, has used its Disney + streaming service to expand its theatrical releases. Shows like “WandaVision”, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “Loki” are directly related to the MCU and must be watched to understand all the nuances of the upcoming films.

The Snyder Cut doesn’t do that. It exists in a vacuum.

Reinforcing HBO Max

As for the hope that fans will turn to HBO Max to see the film, increasing the number of subscribers, what matters is the longevity of their interest.

“Is it a good deal? Maybe.” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com. “As a one-time release, the movie may momentarily increase subscriptions to HBO Max, but streamers are stronger with episodic and weekly content that keeps casual consumers coming back from binge after binge.”

Robbins noted that “Justice League” is a niche movie, as its audience demographics skew between young people and men. So while it’s likely to appeal to DC fans, it might not do much to move the needle in subscription records across the board, unless they’re drawn to other HBO Max content.

Ray Fisher plays Cyborg in “Justice League”.

Source: Warner Bros.

“The ‘Justice League’ alone may not be the answer to the company’s future needs, especially as the DC brand has already started to move in other directions creatively, but it may succeed as a Valentine’s Day symbol for the fans, “Robbins said.

AT&T seems to have confidence in HBO Max. The company increased its subscriber projections last week to a range of 120 million to 150 million for HBO Max and HBO by the end of 2025.

In October 2019, the company set a goal of reaching 50 million U.S. subscribers by 2025, a relatively low bar considering that premium cable channel HBO already had around 33 million subscribers prior to the service’s launch. of transmission.

Still, there seems to be a little missed opportunity at the launch of “Justice League” before HBO Max expands globally. The platform will launch in about 60 markets outside of the US this year and will launch a lower-cost version with advertising in June. “Justice League” earned the majority of its $ 658 million in international ticket sales. It only made $ 230 million at the box office in the United States.

WarnerMedia could have easily used the “Justice League” as a decoy for international releases. Instead, the film, which will be broadcast in high definition statewide, is likely to be a target of choice for international digital pirates.

Divulge: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes.

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