There seems to have been an assumption, among the fervent and fevered acolytes of the Snyder Cut cult, that the fabled “real” version of Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon’s Justice League was already out there somewhere. That there existed, locked deep in the Warner Bros. vault, some idealized edit of the movie, performed by Snyder in the years after a personal tragedy forced him to step away from its filming and leave Whedon to finish it, and that “releasing the Snyder Cut” would be as simple as wiping off the mothballs, uploading it to, say, HBO Max, and letting the money/internet hate energy flow in.
But while Snyder might have a few blurry pictures of DC Comics big bad Darkseid—think Thanos, but with an emphasis on destroying all of the universe’s free will, instead of just half of its bodies—to pump up his Twitter followers with today, the executives at HBO Max are trying to be very clear that there’s nothing simple (or cheap) about their plan to release the alternate cut of the movie next year. This is per an interview that WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt gave to Vox’s Recode Media podcast earlier this week, in which he suggested that the $30 million price tag people have been floating for the re-cut film might actually be way less than what the company ends up shelling out.
“I’ll just say I wish it was just $30 million, and stop there!” Greenblatt said at the tail-end of the interview, declining to offer up an actual number for how much the Snyder Cut is going to cost them. He did hint at where that price tag comes from, though, including new effects shots, plus clearances from the unions that worked on the film (and what sound like a series of conversations about whether this counts, for contract purposes, as a “new movie,” or just a re-cut of an existing one.) Greenblatt also described the film as a “radical rethinking” of Justice League, a movie that did, you know, fine, in both the critical and box office stakes, but which didn’t come anywhere near the cultural domination enjoyed by its rival Marvel movies. Snyder Cut orthodoxy has always contended that that’s a direct consequence of the film’s compromised nature, and that Snyder’s original vision for the movie would have been far more successful.
How many Steppenwolf action figures would the movie have sold if it had come out in its pure, untainted state? (Steppenwolf is the primary antagonist of Justice League; you’d be forgiven for forgetting that.) We’ll get some clue next year, because Warner is clearly committed to this thing, even if they won’t tell us exactly how much that commitment ultimately cost.