Zack Snyder drops out of Justice League movie after daughter’s suicide, Joss Whedon taking over

Zack Snyder drops out of Justice League movie after daughter’s suicide, Joss Whedon taking over
Zack Snyder (left) and Joss Whedon. AP file photo
Published: 9:55 AM, May 23, 2017

LOS ANGELES — Zack Snyder, the director behind the coming Warner Bros movie Justice League, said Monday (May 22) that he would step away from the megabudget superhero project to cope with the recent suicide of his daughter.

Warner said the director Joss Whedon will take over Justice League, which is slated for release on Nov 17 and still requires some substantial additional shooting and extensive postproduction work. Whedon is best known for directing The Avengers and its Age of Ultron sequel for Marvel Studios, Warner’s most serious competitor.

Snyder’s wife, Deborah, a producer on Justice League, will also step away from the film.

“What they are going through is unimaginable, and my heart — our hearts — go out to them,” Toby Emmerich, the president of Warner Bros Pictures, told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday. In the same article, Snyder said, “I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me.”

Warner and Snyder declined to comment further.

Autumn Snyder, who was 20 and attending Sarah Lawrence College, died in March. Snyder said he tried to return to work but realised the load was too much. “In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was the way through it,” Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter.

“I know the fans are going to be worried about the movie, but there are seven other kids that need me,” Snyder added, referring to his family. “In the end, it’s just a movie.”

Although there is precedent for directors stepping away from major live-action movies in the middle of production — The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind are two examples — it is extremely rare. And it almost always happens because the studio is not happy with the project’s direction.

There was enormous pressure for Justice League to be a hit for Zack Snyder and Deborah Snyder, a longtime producer who has credits on nearly all of her husband’s films, including 300 and Man of Steel. Their last film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, took in US$873 million (S$1.2 billion) worldwide but was considered a creative misfire — in many ways making Justice League a careers-hanging-in-the-balance endeavour.

Justice League has a production budget of roughly US$250 million. Global marketing can easily add US$150 million in costs. NEW YORK TIMES