When news broke that Warner Bros. was going to embark on an historical endeavor to release its full slate of 2021 movies in theaters and on streaming on the same days, most immediately started to concern themselves with the movies that were destined for theaters that they’d now be able to see at home. And rightfully so. Thanks to the ongoing COVID 19 crisis, movie theaters are wrestling with safety protocols to entice audiences back in droves, and Warner Bros.’ decision now means that massive blockbusters such as James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, In The Heights and Dune will arrive in the comfort and safety of our living rooms.
But what about projects that were only supposed to go to HBO Max. Could they also open in theaters, now that the line between streaming and theatrical has blurred all the more? And by “projects,” I really only mean one: Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
If you are reading this piece, you no doubt know what is happening with Zack Snyder’s “Snyder Cut” of his restored vision for Justice League. And if you don’t yet know, pre-order my book, which recounts the entire, incredible story. But Snyder is now getting to deliver his complete Justice League in four one-hour episodes, though he has expressed interest in cutting together all of his footage into one four-hour cut of a movie.
Could that movie play in theaters after it’s done on HBO Max?
There’s no question that HBO Max rolled the dice on the legendary Snyder Cut of Justice League to help lure subscribers to the streaming platform. As HBO Max continues to compete with Disney+ and Netflix for eyeballs, exclusive content is what wins over viewers, so becoming the home of a version of Justice League that countless fans (and many curious parties) want to see can only boost your exposure.
If it's possible I would love there to be a theatrical component to Justice League. It's a little above my pay grade as far as distribution. The reality is the way distribution works, Warner Bros. and HBO Max, they have to make deals with all these different territories and there's this super complicated process of how they sell the movie. But barring that and with any kind of luck, in places where maybe HBO Max doesn't exist or something like that, there might be an opportunity to grab some IMAX screens.
But this was before WarnerMedia and Warner Bros. announced its plan to release its movies on HBO Max and in theaters at the same time. It’s almost as if Snyder knew this option was about to be announced, but couldn’t quite say specifics.
He does, in his quote, hint at one of the reasons why a simultaneous theatrical release of The Snyder Cut would benefit some audiences. HBO Max isn’t available globally yet, and the director’s worldwide fans are concerned that they might not be able to see the movie for which they have been pining at the same time as the rest of the planet. The issue -- or, one of the issues -- is that we don’t yet know what theaters will look like when Zack Snyder’s Justice League opens on HBO Max. Along those lines, we don’t know WHEN the Snyder Cut is coming to the streaming service, so this can only be speculation at this point.
But my guess is that after all four “episodes” of the reconfigured Justice League screen on HBO Max, and the streaming service has benefitted from the roughly $70 million it poured into post-production to finish Snyder’s vision, plans will be announced to bring the whole bloody affair to movie theaters so that true fans can see it in the way that Snyder intended. You’d go, right?