Before WarnerMedia announced the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League, its existence was shrouded in mystery. Since the director had to abandon the project to attend to a personal matter, Joss Whedon, the second unit director, took over. It seemed at the time like a lateral move given Whedon's experience with the first two Avengers films. When Warner Bros finally released the DC film in 2017, reviews among fans were mixed. The ones who hated it demanded the studio release the version Snyder originally intended, which began the "Release the Snyder Cut" campaign. Upon the launch of WarnerMedia's streaming service HBO Max, the company shockingly announced the much-demanded version Justice League. Tony Goncalves, the CEO of AT&T's Otter Media division, which oversees HBO Max went on The Verge's podcast series The Vergecast to discuss what went into the decision.
Goncalves Explains DC's Passionate Fandom for Justice League
When asked about if WarnerMedia's decision came to caving to fan demands, Goncalves responded diplomatically. "I don't know if caving is actually the way to think about it," he said. "I think the consumer wins at the end of the day, and I think we've put together a product offering that has multiple Snyder cuts." The CEO explained "multiple Snyder cuts" metaphorically. "The reference to the Snyder Cut is that it's a passionate fandom," he said. "There's a passionate fandom around Friends. There's a passionate fandom around Harry Potter. There's a passionate fandom around… I mean, you name it on that platform; the DC library. There's a passionate fandom around Crunchyroll, passionate fandom around Studio Ghibli." When pressed about if releasing the Snyder cut of Justice League will set precedence to similar type releases, he responded it's based on feedback from consumers.
"My reference to the fandoms is the fact that we're in a space where consumers are loud," Goncalves said. "Consumers guide, and we absolutely have to listen as an industry. I had a boss that once said, 'Industry and consumers aren't always aligned, but consumers do tend to win.' It's a fine balance. And I think when it comes to video, when it comes to entertainment, when it comes to content, consumers have never had more choice, and they've never had more of a voice. But that doesn't mean that we will go and invest our dollars in every single fandom that exists."
"But I think the reference to the Snyder Cut and the Friends fandom is the fact that consumers are speaking, and we have to listen," Goncalves continued. "It doesn't mean that we're going to go redo every movie ever made. But I think that we definitely have to have our ear to the ground. And I think we do. I just go back to look at the buzz that the Harry Potter library brought us yesterday. It was a wonderful surprise and delight. It's because consumers are passionate about these franchises." To be fair, the Harry Potter franchise spans four directors, and none of them had anywhere near the controversy Justice League had. The film stars Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jason Mamoa, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher. Justice League is slated for release on HBO Max in 2021. You can listen to the podcast below.