The hotly anticipated four-hour-long director’s cut of “Justice League” arrived Thursday on HBO Max.
Assembled from hours of unused footage and cut together with newly filmed scenes, the Snyder Cut is an anomaly in the entertainment industry. Driven by a yearslong fan-driven social media campaign, Zack Snyder got a second chance at crafting his version of “Justice League.”
WarnerMedia, which is owned by AT&T, saw the fervent crusade for Snyder’s official cut of the movie as a way to appease ardent fans and pad its streaming service HBO Max with exclusive content.
However, the risk is “Justice League” may not pay back the dividends that WarnerMedia needs it to. The film sets up sequels that DC fans may never get to see, meaning even if it does succeed in drawing in subscribers for the month of March, there’s no promise of new DC-related content on the horizon for the streaming service to keep those new sign-ups around.
Initial estimates pegged the price tag for Snyder’s second take at $20 million to $30 million because many of the computer-generated images were not finished. However, more recent estimates suggest WarnerMedia could have shelled out $70 million or more on the project as Snyder brought back several actors to shoot new material. It’s unclear if that figure includes spending on marketing.
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, said media and streaming analyst Dan Rayburn.
What may help is that HBO Max has several high-profile releases coming to its platform in March and early April. On March 31, “Godzilla vs. Kong” arrives on 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 have a consistent steady stream of new content can help in retaining subscribers.
And then there are the fans. While Snyder and DC Films President Walter Hamada have both said this updated “Justice League” will not spawn spinoffs or automatically set up a sequel, the film allows Warner Bros. to regain some good will.