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Zack Snyder's Justice League Budget Explained: How Much It Cost

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  • Here's how much the overall production of Justice League is reported to have cost. There are precious few "firsts" remaining in the world of cinema, but the release of Zack Snyder's Justice League comes with an origin story even Clark Kent would find unlikely. Zack Snyder departed Justice League during post-production in 2017 due to personal circumstances, and was replaced by Joss Whedon. Widespread reports of mass reshoots followed, and Justice League released to poor reviews and unspectacular box office. As the sweeping changes to Snyder's original vision became clear, fans campaigned for Justice League's lost cut to be released, and Warner Bros. finally acquiesced with a 2021 HBO Max release.

    Needless to say, Justice League must've cost a pretty penny during its long road to the big and small screens. There's the initial budget allocated to Zack Snyder - enough to make a blockbuster DC superhero movie. Then there's the cost of Joss Whedon's reshoots to add on. And, finally, the extra dollars needed to get Zack Snyder's Justice League ready for public consumption. That's quite some outlay for a forgettable theatrical release and a streaming exclusive, and HBO Max will no doubt be hoping to see an influx of subscribers to offset that investment as much as possible.

    How Much Justice League Originally Cost


    Following on from the disappointment of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zack Snyder's plan for the DCEU was reigned in somewhat. Even before his departure, Justice League lost its "Part II" and Snyder's horror-inspired Steppenwolf was dropped in response to accusations that the DCEU was too dark. Nevertheless, Snyder stepped onto set for his first day on Justice League looking to create a grand superhero crossover, and he was afforded a healthy budget in order to do so. Unsurprisingly, Warner has never provided a breakdown of how much cash was spent bringing Justice League to life, but reports suggest Snyder originally had somewhere in the region of $275 million to spend, not including marketing. This alone is an eye-watering sum on par with the most recent Star Wars movies. Released the same year, Thor: Ragnarok clocked in at almost $100 million less.

    Justice League was already on track to become one of the most expensive movies ever made, and Joss Whedon's arrival only accelerated that process. According to Variety, the Justice League reshoots added another $25 million to the budget, bringing the grand total up to a round $300 million (via Wall Street Journal) - the joint-fifth highest film budget of all time, not adjusted for inflation. While reshoots are increasingly common practice, even the most extensive changes rarely top $10 million, but Whedon's ideas demanded more than double that sum. Clearly, the kind of flawless, impossible-to-spot CGI seen on Henry Cavill's top lip doesn't come cheap.

    How Much Zack Snyder's Reshoots Cost


    In agreeing to finally #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, Warner Bros. were obliged to open their checkbook a third time in Justice League's name. Reports vary as to exactly how complete the Snyder cut was before Joss Whedon came aboard, but Forbes quoted the unreleased edition somewhere close to 90% done. Nevertheless, the special effects remained unfinished, and more money was needed for that extra 10%. Additionally, Zack Snyder sought to add fresh material, bringing Jared Leto's Joker back in from the cold to film brand new scenes. Despite Snyder himself not taking a fee, Zack Snyder's Justice League hasn't come cheap. A 2020 Telegraph report quoted around $40 million was required to complete what had already been filmed, before The Wrap claimed reshoots and new footage had pushed the total to $70 million - some outlay for a streaming release.

    Adding together all three stages in the Justice League evolution (Snyder, Whedon, Snyder 2: Reshoot Boogaloo), the DCEU effort has reportedly racked up a bill of $370 million plus marketing. This comes perilously close to the current most expensive film ever (non-adjusted), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Jack Sparrow at least had the good grace to draw over $1 billion at the box office; can Zack Snyder's Justice League justify the price tag on HBO Max?
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