- The “Release the Snyder Cut” movement, an effort to get director Zack Snyder’s cut of “Justice League” released, has gained momentum in 2019.
- The success of “Joker” has given some fans hope that Warner Bros. will release the Snyder Cut.
- The movement raised over $32,000 combined for the San Diego and New York Comic Cons this year, half of which was donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Warner Bros. and DC’s “Justice League” was supposed to be the studio’s equivalent to Disney and Marvel Studios’ $1.5 billion-grossing “Avengers.”
But the superhero team-up movie landed in 2017 with little fanfare compared to the giant expectations set on it. It cost a hefty $300 million to produce before marketing costs and made just $657 million worldwide. A mere $229 million of that came from the US. For comparison, “Avengers: Infinity War” made more than that last year in its opening weekend.
But despite its disappointing box office and abysmal Rotten Tomatoes critic score of 40%, “Justice League” is still a hot topic of conversation two years later, and it still has its loyal fans — just not of the version seen in theaters.
“The theatrical cut was a drastic change in the tone and quality of what we had become accustomed to when viewing a film directed by Zack Snyder,” Bill Rowlands, a Snyder super fan and actor from the UK, told Business Insider.
“Justice League” was plagued by production woes. Snyder, who also helmed the DC Extended Universe’s “Man of Steel” in 2013 and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” in 2016, stepped away from the project after a family tragedy. “Avengers” director Joss Whedon was brought in to complete the movie, which included extensive reshoots that Snyder loyalists claim drastically altered Snyder’s vision.
From that, the “Release the Snyder Cut” movement was born, which calls for Warner Bros. to release Snyder’s version of the film. And while it’s uncertain if Snyder’s elusive director’s cut of “Justice League” will ever see the light of day, the movement to get it released is bigger than ever.
2019 has seen Jason Momoa, who played Aquaman in “Justice League” and the character’s solo movie, chime in with confirmation that the Snyder Cut exists. Fans also raised a large amount of money to spread awareness of the Snyder Cut at the San Diego and New York Comic Cons this year. The movement has been increasingly spotlighted by media outlets this year as well, including an extensive feature from The Ringer. And Snyder himself has fired up his devotees on the social platform Vero by posting behind-the-scenes images and concept art.
‘Joker’ gives the movement a jolt
Some Snyder Cut followers hope the success of “Joker” helps push Warner Bros. to release the Snyder Cut. At the very least, they believe it vindicates their feelings that DC’s movies should be the antithesis to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Snyder’s DC movies were chastised by critics for their moody tone and brooding depictions of characters, which is exactly why their biggest fans love them so.
“‘Joker’ shares something with Zack Snyder’s DCEU movies,” Cole and Nana, who go by “The Nerd Queens” on social media and wished to keep their last names anonymous, told Business Insider. “Both have been criticized for their portrayal of violence, when in both cases the main point of the violence is to make the viewer uncomfortable — to see it and realize that it’s not okay.”
The R-rated “Joker,” an intensely violent take on Batman’s famous foe, has made over $500 million worldwide in a little over a week off of a $55 million production budget.
“Wouldn’t it be terrific if [Warner Bros.] would finally commit to these director driven powerhouse movies like [‘Joker’], and release the true Snyder cut of [‘Justice League’],” one person tweeted.
“People want the Snyder Cut,” another person said on Twitter. “‘Joker’
READ MORE: ‘Joker’ cinematographer on what star Joaquin Phoenix was really like on set and the controversy surrounding the movie
Since “Justice League” flopped, Warner Bros. has refocused its DC superhero movie strategy on more lighthearted fare like “Aquaman,” which grossed over $1 billion globally, and the critically acclaimed “Shazam!” The next DC movie, “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” looks like it will continue that trend.
But the success of “Joker” gives Snyder Cut fans the hope that both lighthearted and darker threads can coexist in the DC movie universe.
“The success of ‘Joker’ can only show Warner Bros. that the audience has a desire, a wish, and an appetite for the darker, more realistic take on comic-book characters,” Rowlands, who helped organize the movement’s presence at New York Comic Con this month, told Business Insider.
Raising awareness — and money — for more than the Snyder Cut
The Snyder Cut movement raised over $6,300 ahead of NYCC through a GoFundMe page, which took place earlier this month. Half of that was donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a cause important to Snyder fans after the filmmaker’s daughter died by suicide in March 2017.
“It isn’t just about a movie for us,” Nana and Cole said. “That’s why we carry on.”
The pair, who were on the ground at NYCC, told Business Insider that over $110,000 had been raised for the foundation through various campaigns since the movement launched. It raised over $26,000 for San Diego Comic Con this summer, half of which was also donated. Up next, some fans will be taking part in and raising money for AFSP’s Out of the Darkness suicide-prevention walk in Pasadena, California in November.
READ MORE: A second season of HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ isn’t a sure thing and will depend on how audiences respond to season 1
As for the rest of the Comic Con funding, $1,871 of it paid for a 15-second digital billboard in Times Square highlighting the “Release the Snyder Cut” movement, which played every two minutes for 12 hours on October 5, the Saturday of NYCC.
Snyder thanked fans on his Vero account, as seen below:
Funds from the GoFundMe were also used to make pamphlets, buttons, and shirts for Comic Con.
Volunteers walked around the event handing out the materials and getting notable comic creators, including Deadpool cocreator Rob Liefeld, to pose with the shirts. Liefeld has supported the cause on multiple occasions on Twitter.
The Snyder Cut effort is often the subject of online criticism. Some of it has been aimed at the movement’s more passionate (even toxic) followers. But some is unnecessary and mean-spirited, Snyder Cut proponents said.
“I do interact online with a lot of people who either don’t get it or simply didn’t want the DCEU to even exist to start with and as such troll,” Rowlands said. “The sad reality is that those who deliberately try to troll Snyder Cut supporters don’t need to. Art is subjective and we all deserve our own opinions, so I often wonder why some enjoy trying to put others down for wanting something.”
With people like Momoa and Snyder in its corner, the movement has tried to move on from the trolling. Momoa said the Snyder Cut is “sick” in a video on his Instagram in August, where he praised Snyder and said “I wouldn’t be here today, in my career, if it wasn’t for him.”
“When we first came to all of this, people were definitely much more resentful and negative towards us,” Cole and Nana said. “But as the movement grew and even some popular voices joined our ranks, it felt like tides are definitely changing. Hopefully the trend will continue and one day we will get rid of the negative labels that we were given in the past.”
The movement went full speed ahead this year in trying to alert Warner Bros. of its ultimate goal. Fans attempted to make an ally out of Warner Bros.’ new CEO, Ann Sarnoff, when the studio announced her hiring in June.
People immediately bombarded the studio’s announcement on Twitter with the hashtag and rallying cry “#ReleasetheSnyderCut.” Beyond Twitter, fans promised to launch a letter-writing campaign aimed at Sarnoff.
So will the Snyder Cut ever be released?
A senior Warner Bros. executive told The Wall Street Journal last year that the studio had no plans “to release any alternate versions of ‘Justice League.'” Meanwhile, Snyder regularly reveals new details about his scrapped plan for “Justice League” on Vero, provoking fans to push for his cut even more.
“Whichever way it is released, it will hopefully give the fans the opportunity to view and appreciate all the hard work that Zack and his crew worked towards,” Rowlands said. “When you create any art you just want to have something out there you can be proud of.”
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