Rolling Stone has published a bombshell report about the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement, which fans of superhero movies - and especially readers of this site - are certainly more than familiar with.
The major finding was that around 13% of Snyder Cut accounts are fake, which is a considerable uptick from the standard 3-5% of fake accounts for any other trending topic, and strongly suggests that there may have been some outside manipulation that ultimately resulted in years of incessant online harassment of critics of Zack Snyder or his work.
However, what's more damning are some of the revelations about the controversial director that paint a considerably different picture than what we've been led to believe, and could potentially suggest his involvement in some of the more targeted attacks.
There's a lot to discuss, so click on the "NEXT" button down below to get the scoop on all of the major revelations!
15. Zack Snyder Reportedly Threatened To Ruin Geoff Johns & Jon Berg
Following the announcement of his director's cut of Justice League in 2020, Snyder was reportedly hellbent on removing the names of two producers from the film - Geoff Johns and Jon Berg - who he believed had negatively impacted him losing creative control of DC Films at Warner Bros.
According to the report, he even went so far as to threaten an executive in the studio's postproduction department, saying, "Geoff and Jon are dragging their feet on taking their names off my cut. Now, I will destroy them on social media.”
14. At Least 13% Of #ReleaseTheSnyderCut Accounts Were Fake
Here's one of the story's biggest bombshells, as two separate reports commissioned by WarnerMedia found that at least 13% of #ReleaseTheSnyderCut accounts were fake.
That's a drastic uptick from the standard 3% to 5% of fake accounts cyber experts typically find on any trending topic.
Q5id and Graphika also identified the suspicious activity independently, while another firm Alethea Group discovered that forsnydercut.com had once been registered to a person who ran an ad agency that promised to bring "cheap, instant Avatar traffic to your website.”
Rival studios were baffled by the movement for months, but it finally became clear post-release that something was not right.
A digital marketing executive explained the bizarre phenomenon, “Just look at the drop: [That hashtag was] trending at a million tweets a day for when they wanted to release the Snyder Cut. And it dropped down to 40,000 within days. You don’t see a drop like that organically.” Instead, the executive says, it appears to be a classic example of “weaponizing a movement.”
13. Zack Snyder Suspected To Be Involved In The Manipulation
In an even more shocking revelation, many of the twenty individuals that Rolling Stone spoke to suspected that Snyder himself was involved in the campaign and was manipulating events, potentially even funding it.
Snyder tosses the blame on Warner Bros. and claims, the studio was “trying to leverage my fan base to bolster subscribers to their new streaming service.”
While Rolling Stone stops short of accusing Snyder of definitively being involved, they do seemingly suggest he likely knew more than he was letting on, with one of their sources painting quite a damning picture of the director, “Zack was like a Lex Luthor wreaking havoc.”
12. Threats Of Violence Prompted Warner Bros. To Act
When a photo of the decapitated heads of Geoff Johns, DC Films president Walter Hamada, and former Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich went viral on social media, WarnerMedia took action and sought out a third-party cybersecurity firm to analyze the increasing amount of trolling.
Their report concluded with the following, “After researching online conversations about the Snyder Cut of the Justice League‘s release, specifically the hashtags ‘ReleaseTheSnyderCut’ and ‘RestoreTheSnyderVerse’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, [the analysts] detected an increase in negative activity created by both real and fake authors.
One identified community was made up of real and fake authors that spread negative content about WarnerMedia for not restoring the ‘SnyderVerse.’ Additionally, three main leaders were identified within the authors scanned on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram — one leader on each platform. These leaders received the highest amount of engagement and have many followers, which gives them the ability to influence public opinion.”
Rolling Stone independently researched the matter, asking three other cybersecurity and social media intelligence firms to investigate. Q5id's analysis found, “there’s no question that bots were involved,” with their CIO & CTO Becky Wanta further explaining, “There are certain patterns that bots give off that we saw here. They arrive at almost the same time in huge numbers. And many times the origin of thousands or even millions of messages can be traced to a single source or two. Sometimes, they can be traced to unusual servers in remote countries. And their content will be precisely similar.”
Their findings were further supported when Snyder suspiciously won two fan-favorite awards at this year's Academy Awards, which The Wrap later found to be manipulated by online bots.
11. Zack Snyder Reportedly Hired Digital Marketing Firm To Boost Batman v Superman's Fan Engagement Following Abysmal Reviews
A source claims that, following the abysmal critical reception to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016, Snyder hired a digital marketing firm to juice fan engagement.
While it still earned $874 million globally, it was considered one of the year's biggest disappointments and essentially derailed the DC Films universe before it ever got going.
Snyder showed his first cut of Justice League to WB execs almost exactly a year later, in early 2017, and it was met with a tepid response, with Kevin Tsujihara and those in attendance deeming it a convoluted "disaster" and "full-on failure." They would seek out Joss Whedon shortly thereafter as a writer and consultant.
10. Zack Snyder Was Humiliated By Joss Whedon Coming On Board
Nine days later, Snyder screened another cut that was still over two hours. Whedon gave his notes, but Snyder reportedly was not very receptive.
In March of that year, Snyder experienced an unimaginable tragedy when his 20-year-old daughter committed suicide, but he continued work on the film. The studio, meanwhile, had Whedon working on trying to lighten the film's tone.
Then, in May, Snyder screened his final version for the studio's department heads, clocking in at a reasonable 2 hours and 18 minutes, but it was also met negatively, with a source claiming it was "unwatchable” and “joyless.” Considering the actual final film clocked in at over four hours, that sounds about right.
After that disastrous screening, Snyder announced his departure from the project while simultaneously announcing the death of his daughter.
Whedon's Justice League was released in November and expectedly received a negative response from critics and fans alike. With Snyder out, Warner Bros. was already looking to the future and had early plans to replace both Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill.
9. Zack Snyder Stole Hard Drives From Warner Bros.
According to the report, Snyder sent one of his editors back to Warner Bros. to retrieve hard drives that contained his footage from Justice League. Since it was studio property, they asked him to return the hard drives, but he refused.
He contends that he was contractually obligated to any files connected to the film and that he was not asked. Security was informed of the matter, but no action was taken since the film was already out and no one thought he would attempt to put together an alternate cut.
8. Who Was Funding #ReleaseTheSnyderCut?
As the intensity of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut campaign increased, with attacks on executives and critics worsening by the day, outsiders began wondering who exactly was funding some of the more high-profile publicity stunts, including a Times Square ad (reportedly worth over $50,000) and a plane flying over San Diego Comic-Con with a custom banner.
Instead of calling off his supporters, Snyder only added fuel to the fire by posting a photo of film canisters with the title of the then-fabled director's cut.
Insiders were upset at his latest stunt, “He refused to return the hard drives, which were studio property. This was just more orchestrated bullshit from Zack.”
Forsnydercut.com was one of his most vocal supporters, launching the infamous hashtag, but it's unclear who was actually behind the site. It's since been discovered that the film was registered to a man named Xavier Lannes, who, according to LinkedIn, was the of a LA-based digital ad firm called MyAdGency, which promised to bring “cheap, instant Avatar traffic to your website.” The firm is now defunct.
7. Zack Snyder Received $60 Million To Finish His Director's Cut - And He Secretly Shot Scenes During The Pandemic
New WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar and HBO Max executive Bob Greenblatt were ultimately the ones who greenlit the Snyder Cut, and it seems like Snyder may have misled them slightly by claiming no new footage would be required.
However, his cut was nowhere near actually being done and the studio ended up giving Snyder $60 million to finish postproduction and the extensive special effects work, which was much higher than the reported $20-$30 million.
Snyder also filmed scenes in his backyard during the height of the pandemic, reportedly not adhering to any sort of COVID protocols or union guidelines. Snyder confirmed the two shoots, but says he did follow protocols and claims that one of the shoots was authorized by the studio.
He also requested another $13 million from the studio, which wasn't part of the deal since he was not supposed to shoot any extra footage.
6. Zack Snyder and Ray Fisher May Have Been Working In Tandem
Things went from bad to worse for Warner Bros. during the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut campaign as damning allegations against Joss Whedon surfaced and one of their film's stars Ray Fisher began to levy accusations against producers Geoff Johns and Jon Berg.
According to the story, "Nearly all of the insiders interviewed by Rolling Stone say they believe Fisher and Snyder were working in tandem, based on Fisher’s tweets coming directly on the heels of Snyder’s behind-the-scenes demands. Snyder calls the allegation “totally untrue”; Fisher declined comment to Rolling Stone."
As for Fisher's accusations of racism, an external investigation found "no credible support" that there was any racial animus and cleared Toby Emmerich, Jon Berg, and Geoff Johns of any charges of racial injustice.
5. Martian Manhunter Was Never Supposed To Be In The Movie
Martian Manhunter was never supposed to be in Zack Snyder's Justice League and his inclusion left the studio completely blindsided as he was not in the script. It also interfered with the studio's plans to use him in a separate project, and they really didn't want the character wasted in two random scenes.
Snyder reportedly threatened to delete other footage from the film if he didn't have his way, around the same time Ray Fisher turned up the heat on Walter Hamada, who was Snyder's main opposition and the one requesting Martian Manhunter be removed.
Hamada was also absolved of any wrongdoing during the external investigation and was actually working at a different WM subsidiary when Justice League was even released, so Fisher's claims were baseless.
Jason Kilar overruled the team and allowed Martian Manhunter to appear, which upset many studio insiders. Snyder was also granted the extra $13 million to finish the film, raising the production to $73 million. Marketing costs took it over $100 million.
“That’s $73 million while people were losing their jobs at the studio for a director’s cut of a film that already lost hundreds of millions.” says a studio, while Snyder retorts, “The studio never would have released my version of Justice League unless it made financial/business sense for them.”
According to Samba TV, 1.8 million American households watched at least the first five minutes of the film, which was behind Wonder Woman 1984. However, only one-third finished the film in one sitting and by the end of its first week, it had only been watched by 2.2 million households, with only 36% finishing it in one sitting. Approximately 4 million U.S. households watched it after nearly 40 days.
It's believed to be the eighth most-streamed film of 2021, but a far cry from the blockbuster success some of its most vocal supporters were predicting.
4. Godzilla vs Kong Director Adam Wingard Reportedly Asked Zack Snyder To Tell His Fans To Stop Review Bombing His Film - But Snyder Did Nothing
Johanna Fuentes and Tatiana Siegel both drew the ire of SnyderCut supporters in early 2021, with Snyder even telling the latter to amend a story about Kiersey Clemons being cast in The Flash, “I’m just telling you what the fans are going to do. Trust me, they are pretty, pretty, pretty rough." When the reporter declined, his fans were quick to attack.
Adam Wingard's Godzilla vs. Kong was one of the many victims of the Snyder Cut movement, with supporters review bombing the MonsterVerse epic due to its close release proximity to Zack Snyder's Justice League. Wingard even reportedly reached out to Snyder to ask him to call off the hounds, but he refused.
He claims that no request was made and coyly notes, “Furthermore, I do not control my fans. They have their own will and their own opinions; you really give me too much credit.” Wingard declined further comment.
Warner Bros. was able to successfully lobby IMDb to weed out Godzilla vs Kong review bombers. Things took another turn when the mob took aim at James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, a move that seemingly forced Snyder to issue a statement, finally acknowledging the toxic nature of his fanbase.
Both Godzilla vs. Kong and The Suicide Squad ultimately ended up largely outperforming Zack Snyder's Justice League on HBO Max, with the former also ranking as the eighth-highest grossing film of 2021 at the box office.
3. The SnyderVerse is Dead.
Zack Snyder has moved on to Netflix, having delivered Army of the Dead last year, and is currently working on the two-part Rebel Moon, where Ray Fisher is playing a resistance fighter named Blood Axe.
Warner Bros. has no future DC plans with either of them.
Walter Hamada, who championed Matt Reeves' The Batman, is expected to remain onboard, as will Geoff Johns, who is behind The CW's Stargirl, and Jon Berg, who is in the early stages of developing a number of unannounced DC projects.
2. Zack Snyder's Statement
In a final statement to Rolling Stone, the director said, “As an artist it was fulfilling to be able to finally see my vision realized after such a difficult time in my life and for it to be so well received. I am grateful to both the fan community and Warner Bros. for allowing this to happen. To dwell on negativity and rumors serves no one."
Referencing some of the charitable causes his Snyder Cult has donated to, he concludes, "If this is indeed a balanced article, I hope that all the good work the fandom has done is being represented.”
1. A Dangerous Precedent
Whether this saga will continue or if Warner Bros. would rather this all just be over - regardless of Snyder's potential culpability - remains to be seen.
Either way, the rampant social media manipulation is concerning for not only Hollywood, but the world at large. Q5id's Wanta forewarns, “That’s my concern with the manipulation that’s happening inside these movements, relative to bots — you can drive the court of public opinion. It needs to be dealt with, because it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”