This is heartbreaking news: #ZackSnyder is stepping down from directing Justice League to deal with a family tragedy, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. His wife and co-producer, #DeborahSnyder, will also be stepping down.
Unbeknownst to anyone outside their private circle, Snyder's 20-year-old daughter, Autumn, committed suicide in March. Production for #JusticeLeague was quietly put on a two-week break to allow the family time to grieve. Ultimately, however, the couple decided that they needed to step back from work to focus on their family. Snyder said,
In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was way through it. The demands of this job are pretty intense. It is all consuming. And in the last two months I’ve come to the realization …I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.
Warner Bros., to its credit, has done right by Snyder. The original offer was to push back the release date, but Snyder opted against it. He'll also be free to work on other projects when he returns to the studio.
Justice League, which is currently in post-production, will be left in the hands of #JossWhedon, who signed on to direct Batgirl 10 days after Snyder's daughter passed. Working based on Snyder's prep, Whedon will be responsible for writing and shooting a few additional scenes that Snyder wanted included in the film. Warner Bros. Pictures president Toby Emmerich said,
The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set. We’re not introducing any new characters. It’s the same characters in some new scenes. He’s handing a baton to Joss but the course has really been set by Zack. I still believe that despite this tragedy, we’ll still end up with a great movie.
In light of this stomach-dropping news, the uncertainty of the #DCEU in the past few months suddenly makes sense. With the Snyders dealing with tragedy, and, possibly knowing they would be stepping back, it makes sense that some projects have been up in the air, and why Warner Bros. decided to bring Whedon on board.
Understandably, while Snyder loves Justice League and wants it to do well, his family comes first, which is why he hopes fans will understand his decision:
"Here’s the thing, I never planned to make this public. I thought it would just be in the family, a private matter, our private sorrow that we would deal with. When it became obvious that I need to take break, I knew there would be narratives created on the internet. They’ll do what they do. The truth it…I’m past caring about that kind of thing now.
I want the movie to be amazing and I’m a fan, but that all pales pretty quickly in comparison. I know the fans are going to be worried about the movie but there are seven other kids that need me. In the end, it’s just a movie. It’s a great movie. But it’s just a movie."
I can't imagine what the Snyders are going through. The condolences of fans and the entire entertainment industry alike are going out to them right now. Hopefully, with time off away from the public eye, without the pressure of continuing WB's #DC universe, will allow the family time to come together and heal.
Justice League is still on track for a November 17, 2017 release.