The fan-led campaign to release director Zack Snyder’s Justice League was boosted by bots, according to a report.
Released in 2017, Justice League was originally directed by Snyder before he stepped down in the middle of post-production following the death of his daughter, Autumn. After he left the project, Joss Whedon was hired by Warner Bros. to complete the film.
Justice League was subsequently released to mixed reviews, sparking a fan campaign for the release of the “Snyder cut”; the feature envisioned by Snyder before he stepped down from the project.
A report investigating the online activity of the campaign, commissioned by WarnerMedia and obtained by Rolling Stone, found at least 13 per cent of the accounts involved in the Snyder cut conversation were deemed fake. This is described as “well above the three to five per cent that cyber experts say they typically see on any trending topic”.
As a result, the report states that the real-life fans supporting Snyder were “amplified by a disproportionate number of bogus accounts”.
After speaking with over 20 people involved with the original Justice League and Snyder cut, Rolling Stone also claims Snyder was “working to manipulate the ongoing campaign” against WarnerMedia and two producers – Geoff Johns and Jon Berg – who it’s claimed he wanted removed from the recut film’s credits.
The director, however, has denied the allegations, saying “if anyone” was pulling any strings on social media, it was Warner Bros. “trying to leverage my fan base to bolster subscribers to their new streaming service”.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League was released in March 2021. In a four-star review, NME wrote: “It’s justice for Snyder’s vision…. And it’s justice for a DC Comics fanbase that has been put through the ringer with poor adaptations and meandering visions for much of the last decade.”
Following the film’s release, WarnerMedia Studios CEO Ann Sarnoff called the behaviour of some Snyder fans “reprehensible” when asked about reports of threats over the Snyder cut’s release.
“It’s completely unacceptable.” Sarnoff told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m very disappointed in the fans that have chosen to go to that negative place with regard to DC, with regard to some of our executives. It’s just disappointing because we want this to be a safe place to be.”