This year, DC Comics has been the only constant in our lives. WB has delivered several great news updates regarding future DC films and TV shows. One of the biggest wins for us fans was the announcement of the Snyder Cut. The guys at AT&T and HBO Max were very gracious enough to green light Zack Snyder’s Justice League. This could very well become a flagship franchise/series for HBO Max. But there’s just one big problem that the streaming service might face if they wish to turn Justice League into a multi-season project.
Zack Snyder isn’t just known for making long movies, but his movies are also quite expensive to make. The visual quality in Snyder’s is extremely amazing because the production & post-production costs were very high. Man of Steel’s production budget was reported to be $225 Million. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice costs $250 Million to make. Snyder was allotted a slightly higher amount in order to complete the Justice League. But then he departed from the project after finishing principal photography, and Joss Whedon was then allotted an extra $25 Million or so to conduct his reshoots. Ultimately, the production cost on Justice League sprung up to around $300 million, and even after all the money was spent, a rather unfinished version of the film was released in the theatres.
After spending so much on production and marketing, Justice League still brought in lesser Box Office returns than Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad & Wonder Woman. But everyone knows that Snyder wasn’t the one to blame there. Now, the guys at HBO Max are bearing an additional cost of somewhere between 30-$80 Million to finish the Snyder Cut. So, let’s make an assumption that Snyder’s true version of Justice League is costing somewhere between 300-$350 Million to be finished (we’ve excluded the money that Joss Whedon was allotted). The point I am making here is that every one of Snyder’s DC films have been top-notch in terms of its cast & visual quality, but achieving that has been extremely expensive.
The scale and scope of his Justice League films is equal to any of the Avengers movies. Zack Snyder’s original plan was to make 3 Justice League movies that will finish his 5 movie arc. So, it’s needless to say that the movies following his first Justice League will naturally be even bigger in scale and scope. After all, rumors have suggested that in the sequel, the Justice League will take the fight to Darkseid on Apokolips. So ultimately, Justice League 2 will end up costing around $250 million at least (if not more). Will the guys at AT&T & HBO Max be willing to spend this big of an amount upon Justice League 2?
They’ve greenlit Zack Snyder’s Justice League because ultimately, they are only spending 30-$80 Million upon it. The rest of the money was already spent back when Snyder was shooting Justice League. All the top quality footage that Snyder had shot was rotting in a vault at Warner Bros. HQ, so it was an easy decision to make on the part of HBO Max. But the decision for Justice League 2 won’t be as easy. When asked about the sequel, HBO Max replied on twitter – “One step at a time.” This means that they wish to see how things go with Zack Snyder’s Justice League first.
The only way the Snyder Cut could get green lit for a sequel is if it ends up doing really well. It has to be as good as people think it would be. Moreover, only if all the people who joined the “ReleaseTheSnyderCut” movement would actually pay to watch the upcoming miniseries, will HBO Max consider to do the sequel & the threequel. But the results garnered by the Snyder Cut will have to be extraordinary.
Game of Thrones is one of the most expensive TV shows every made. HBO used to spend around 10-$15 Million per episode. That was the old norm. Now, Marvel is changing the norms of producing TV shows with Disney+. Each episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is rumored to cost around 25-$30 Million. If we multiply that by 6, then the total cost of production for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier would lie somewhere around $150 Million, if not more. That’s equal to the cost of a movie that they regularly produce. But still, this amount is around a $100 Million less than what the Justice League sequel series might require.
Neither is HBO Max available worldwide, nor does the streaming service actually have a bigger subscriber base right now. Until the last month, only 4 million people had subscribed for the streaming service. Out of them, around only 3 million people were paid subscribers. Projects like the Snyder Cut, Justice League Dark, Green Lantern & many other shows will certainly help in making the subscriber base bigger. But will it be enough to cover the ambitious billings that Justice League 2 may require?
If the profits (subscriptions & viewership) on the Snyder Cut aren’t as high, then the guys at HBO Max would surely want to bring the production cost down for the sequel. If they even agree to spend around $200 Million upon the Justice League sequel, (that’s a big if depending entirely on the performance of the Snyder Cut) will Snyder be able to deliver the same kind of quality that he is going to deliver in the first movie?
Well, the answer may be two-fold. In the past, Snyder has directed great-looking films on a lower production budget. Dawn of the Dead only cost around $28 Million, 300’s budget was $65 Million and Watchmen’s production budget was around $120 Million. All these films were good looking despite the reviews they had gathered. So there is no denying the fact that Snyder can be cost-efficient. But will that cost efficiency end up degrading the sequels? Will Snyder lose his freedom? These are certainly the points that the top brass at HBO Max will have to consider.
Another point that should be added here is that apart from the production budget, Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot & Jason Momoa are all top-billed actors. Their signing fee might not allow a Justice League sequel to be made with a $200 Million budget. In fact, they’d want more money to return for the sequels. The production of Justice League 2, which could be as big as Infinity War & Endgame in terms of its scale & scope, will definitely require a similar kind of budget that those films had. Infinity War was produced for around $316 Million & Endgame’s budget was recorded to be around $356 Million. So, would Warner Media be ready to go that high?
As I’ve mentioned above, Zack Snyder’s Justice League will have to deliver something extraordinary to be green lit for sequels. It will be difficult, but not impossible because HBO Max would surely need a big franchise like Snyder’s Justice League to attract more subscribers in the future. With the rise in streaming wars, they probably will be willing to spend the big bucks on a project that has the potential to deliver Billions, if released on the big screen. The Justice League appearing on HBO Max would be equivalent to the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr. & Chris Evans uniting for an Avengers series on Disney+. So, HBO Max will actually hold the most attractive franchise/series as compared to any other streaming service. That’s why I don’t think that they would cancel Zack Snyder’s Justice League after just 1 movie (despite the problems it might pose).
Let’s just hope that the world will unite to watch the Snyder Cut & enjoy it as they enjoyed any of the Avengers movies. Zack Snyder’s Justice League hits HBO Max sometime in the next year.