By most accounts, 2017’s Justice League is a disappointment. It isn’t the epic team-up movie that fans deserved, and it barely reached $650 million worldwide at the box office. That sounds like a big number, but that’s less than Wonder Woman, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and Man of Steel—and that’s just counting the DC Extended Universe films. While it doesn’t sound like it’s put the future of the franchise in terrible jeopardy, it can’t have pleased Warner Bros. Its reported break-even point is $750 million, a mark it won’t make at the cinema but will probably wind up technically being profitable after home video and merchandising is taken into account.
Fans, meanwhile, are placing the blame on Joss Whedon, who took over directorial duties midway through production after Zack Snyder left due to personal reasons. Whedon didn’t receive a directorial credit—only a screenplay one—but oversaw a not insignificant amount of the film. There were extensive reshoots that he oversaw, and the reshot scenes were written by him.
Some fans are holding out hope that Warner Bros. will release Zack Snyder’s cut of the film. Here is why that won’t happen.
The Cut Doesn’t Exist
Chances are that the “Zack Snyder Cut” of Justice League doesn’t exist. Not in any releasable form, anyway. Films go through various stages during production, including many different rough cuts—which often have repeating expositional scenes, unfinished effects, “fix it in post” moments, and so on. There is no finished cut that only Snyder directed. There are likely several rough versions—workprints—but they aren’t in any shape to be released. And they’ll never get into that shape, because…
It Would Cost Too Much Money
Making big movies costs a lot of money. You know this if you’ve ever looked at the budget for a blockbuster. Justice League cost a lot of money to make and, at least at the box office, failed to reach its break-even point. That means that Warner Bros. has, thus far, lost money on the endeavor. In order to make a “Zack Snyder” cut of the film, effects would need to be finished and an entire staff would either have to be hired or repurposed into doing it. That would cost even more money.
It Wouldn’t Make Money, Either
Fans would argue that a potential Zack Snyder cut of Justice League would be worthwhile regardless of how much it would cost Warner Bros. Because people would pay to see it and it would therefore make money.
But since people didn’t see Justice League, that risk isn’t going to be taken. It’s made the least amount of money of any DCEU movie thus far, and that means it generated the least amount of (paying) interest. So there’s no reason to assume that people would be willing to give it another chance—or even a first chance if they didn’t seek it out in the first place.
A Logistical Nightmare
Given that we don’t know what state any potential Snyder cut is in, we can’t be sure of what still needs to be done. If it’s just finishing some effects, sure, maybe it would be doable if Warner Bros. wanted to sink the resources into it. But chances are that isn’t the case. Reshoots were already planned before Snyder departed—which were then completed by Whedon.
That means that whatever cut Snyder had completed work on also probably needs those reshoots—or reshoots of some nature, given how the whole point of this would be to not use Whedon’s footage. The actors have already fulfilled any Justice League reshoot obligation in their contracts, meaning they’d have to sign up for these theoretical reshoots. That would cost even more money, but also might not be possible given how many actors are in the movie and their schedules.
The Theatrical Cut of Justice League Was Snyder’s Vision—or, at Least, as Close as He/We Could Hope
Joss Whedon was hired by Zack Snyder before he left the project. They discussed what the reshoots needed to be and Whedon wrote those scenes. The final product cut a lot of Synder’s shoot out of the final product, but that was reportedly due to a mandate by Warner Bros., who required the film to be two hours or shorter—so that it could have additional showtimes in theaters and, in theory, make more money. Warner Bros. had more control and dictation with Justice League than any previous DCEU movie, and that would have been the case with or without Snyder here for the whole project.
So, what we saw is probably already close to what Snyder wanted—just shorter and choppier. Finished scenes may eventually show up in an “Extended Cut” on home video, or as deleted scenes, but the extent to which the film was trimmed would likely prohibit significant additions. And because of all the reasons mentioned above, it’s unlikely Warner Bros. who mandated the cuts in the first place, would want to spend more money getting the scenes put back in.