One of the big takeaways from the hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut trending #1 on Twitter during Justice League’s two-year anniversary of its theatrical release is the idea that Warner Brothers new streaming platform, HBO Max, would be the perfect place to showcase Zack Snyder’s original Justice League. Even those that do not want to see the film still claim that it is not a bad idea to air the original version of the film on HBO Max since it could be beneficial for the streaming service.
Having said that, I think there is a better alternative for releasing the film.
Hear me out, I know what I am about to get into is not the popular opinion. That is, however, the point. I understand that the world seems to be shifting more into the streaming realm and the streaming wars are only beginning with Disney’s recent launch of Disney+ and HBO Max coming out next year.
I actually wrote an article about this topic back in June in terms of my main issue with streaming being the future of consuming entertainment, but essentially, a bigger portion of the people out there than what companies and news media are willing to admit are living in areas that cannot support and sustain a half-decent internet connection – which makes streaming not a possibility for those individuals.
Plus, think of streaming this way: do you really want to completely hand over your ability to have a choice in how you consume your entertainment? It might sound paradoxical on surface level, but the idea of streaming is to give viewers a handful of movies and shows to watch for a monthly fee. But as people are starting to realize, sometimes their favorite shows – in some cases, the reason they bought into the streaming service in the first place – can get pulled whenever the companies feel like doing so. A few members of film media have also brought up the idea of it being a limited release in order to not “step on any toes” of those involved with the Justice League re-shoot fiasco. Do we really want that to happen to Snyder’s film again?
Speaking of Zack Snyder, let’s touch on his filmography. He is known for his incredible visual style of film-making, darker, grounded tone, epic style of storytelling, and comic book adaptations. What is the other thing he is well-known for? Directors’ cuts. He has multiple extended versions of Watchmen and, of course, the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The way Snyder tells his stories on the big-screen are typically too long for studios to feel comfortable with theatrically – as he has spoken about with outlets regarding the last minute change for Batman v Superman to cut out 30 minutes of footage for the theatrical release.
A July tweet from Forbes’ Mark Hughes states that the version Snyder and Warner Bros. intended to release theatrically would have been around 2 hours and 45 minutes long and that Snyder has his own cut that is 3 hours and 34 minutes long. Hughes has also said from his sourcing that the version intended for theatrical release is at least 90% completed and the longer version is not – although he could not confirm that at the time. We all pretty much assume that the film will be released within a year or so from now based on the success of the November 17th Twitter event with the cast of the film supporting the movement as well.
The main idea here is that Snyder has quite a bit of experience with longer cuts of his films being released and all of them have been released on home video. With the popularity of 4K becoming more mainstream in the past few years, his 4K Blu ray transfers of his films have been phenomenal. They might not be on par with the very best, like Blade Runner 2049 and Deadpool, but they are spectacular due to having Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos that utilizes active ceiling speakers throughout the film.
This is important because the industry is at a crossroad. If streaming takes over, will that mean the end of physical media – despite physical media being far superior in quality and looking to continue that trend for some time to come? If Snyder’s films are in their best quality with physical media, then why not do it right and release the film that way?
A counterargument could claim that Snyder himself is changing his film making process by way of jumping over to the more filmmaker-friendly Netflix to make Army of the Dead, as well as using an 8K digital camera instead of his trademark 35mm and IMAX film camera for the film. Although not common practice, Netflix has released a few of its originals on home video, such as House of Cards and Daredevil. Nobody knows for certain if Army of the Dead will add itself to the list or only remain available for streaming like most of Netflix’s content. Besides, HBO Max is going to be a completely different type of streaming service than Netflix and will be run by a completely different company as well. Who knows what kind of parameters they will have with their exclusive content?
The one aspect I worry about personally – being a big Zack Snyder fan – is that Warner Bros. will have the ability to pull it off the service whenever they feel like it, if something should come up. That is a major reason why I make sure to grab physical copies of my favorite films. In case you are wondering, the theatrical version of the film received great marks in terms of audio and visual quality from multiple outlets (although that is where the positive aspects end). I do understand that the money to make that happen must come from somewhere and sometimes we do not always get what we want – hence the movement for Snyder’s Justice League that I am incredibly proud of.
If we do, in fact, get the luxury of viewing Zack Snyder’s Justice League someday, I sincerely hope and pray that it will be released in physical media form. If releasing it on HBO Max is the only way we will ever be able to watch it, then I will accept it and enjoy it as much as I possibly can. I am already going to be getting HBO Max anyways since I have been a lifelong fan of Warner Brothers, but if I can get a copy of potentially one of my favorite films ever in physical media form, then that is always the route I will take. I hope you feel the same way and if not, then that is okay as well – just as long as Warner Bros. #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.