While some fans were surprised (and even upset) when it was revealed that the runtime for Justice League would be 1 hour and 59 minutes, it appears hitting that number was no accident. In a new report in the Wall Street Journal highlighting the difficult production of Justice League, it’s revealed that Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara made clear that he wanted the superhero movie to come in under two hours. The “mandate” of sorts came in the wake of the bloated 151-minute runtime of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice—which also has an “Ultimate Edition” that runs a full 30 minutes longer.
The filming of Justice League was a unique process. When Geoff Johns and Jon Berg were hired to oversee the DC movie slate and give it a more optimistic tone, their first job was to get with Zack Snyder and screenwriter Chris Terrio to rework Justice League and make it a more hopeful movie. Per WSJ, when Snyder delivered his cut earlier this year, studio executives “felt he had made progress with the lighter elements,” but also felt the movie could use more work. That’s when Joss Whedon was brought in to write scenes for the reshoots, and when Snyder left after his daughter’s death, Whedon directed and oversaw what WSJ describes as “significant” reshoots that brought the budget up to $300 million.
So did it work? The report notes that a lot of the post-production work was spent melding the tones of Whedon and Snyder’s work into one seamless movie, and while early cuts failed to achieve the right combination, audiences scores of later cuts reportedly hewed close to how Wonder Woman scored.
What’s unclear is what happens to the extra footage. No doubt the film that Snyder initially shot and the film we see in theaters will be different enough, but unlike with Batman v Superman where Snyder oversaw everything and could thus oversee an edit of an extended cut, there’s not really a director involved with Justice League at the moment. Whedon oversaw post-production, but he has no director credit on the final film, and Snyder is no longer involved with the movie.
While Warner Bros. could likely make an extra buck or two by releasing an “extended edition” of Justice League on home video, it’s unclear how that might work. Simply adding in more of Snyder’s stuff likely won’t make a ton of sense given the reshoots, not to mention the visual tinkering that would need to be done to fit the visual tone of the finished film. All of that costs money, and Justice League is expensive enough. So I wouldn’t hold my breath for an extended edition of this movie on home video—at least probably not one overseen by Snyder or Whedon.
But Warner Bros., at least according to this WSJ profile, sounds pretty happy with the finished product all things considered. Ezra Miller’s Flash is said to be who Warner Bros. views as the breakout of the film, and a solo Flash movie is a priority. Moreover, with only Aquaman and Wonder Woman 2 on the release schedule at the moment, Warner Bros. president Toby Emmerich says he wants DC “to worry less about a comprehensive strategy than about making great films,” so the focus at the moment is on developing new superhero films with interesting directors rather than announcing a slate of cinematic universe superhero movies that fit together like puzzle pieces.
A lot is riding on Justice League, that much we know for sure, so it’ll be interesting to see how the film is received by audiences and critics when it hits theaters on November 17th.