Zack Snyder used bots and threats to get his Snyder Cut

A Rolling Stone report reveals the truth about the Snyder Cut movement and the use of bots and threats for the benefit of Zack Snyder.

We were in the spring of 2020 and Zack Snyder he was getting more and more nervous. During those weeks, the director repeatedly demanded that the names of two producers be removed from his cherished Snyder Cutthe superhero movie DC Comics that had floundered at the box office three years earlier. Those producers were Geoff Johns Y Jon Berg. The filmmaker’s powerful agent began calling Warner Bros. Pictures daily to verify the reason why the producer couple had not yet been removed from the credits list.

At the same time, Zack Snyder’s wife, Deborah Snyder, also a producer on the film, began lobbying an executive in the Warner Bros. story department for the same purpose. The director himself admitted that his partner “asked the studio” to intervene after it was ignored “uon personal demand” in relation to Geoff Johns and Jon Berg.

On June 26, 2020, Zack Snyder got sick of waiting for Warner Bros. According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, the director of the Snyder Cut confronted an executive from the studio’s post-production department and issued a threat: “Geoff Johns and Jon Berg are taking too long to get their names removed from my film. So now I’m going to kill them on social media“.

The Birth of the Snyder Cut Movement

Warner Bros. Pictures

A movement arose on social networks and was built around the figure of Zack Snyder from, more or less, 2018. They demanded that Warner Bros. release the Snyder Cut, the director’s cut of the League of Justice. As the filmmaker’s demands intensified behind the scenes, such as the need for more money to finish the four-hour version of a hbo max or even access to intellectual property despite being DC characters, the avalanche of attacks and threats directed at the studio also intensified.

Calls for boycotts, requests for professional dismissal, death threats. Zack Snyder fans persecuted anyone they considered a danger to the so-called SnyderVerse. This included the director Adam Wingardas Godzilla vs Kong it premiered on HBO Max just thirteen days after the Snyder Cut and gained more attention among mass audiences. Other movies like Wonder Woman 1984, in which Geoff Johns participated as a screenwriter, were also boycotted. The onslaught was so great that it became cyber bullying, so Warner Bros. was forced to involve a very strict security division. Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine, a spokesperson for Warner Bros Discovery He did not want to comment on it,since this matter belongs to the past, not to the leadership of the new company“.

Using bots to keep the flame burning

Zack Snyder - Snyder Cut
Warner Bros. Pictures

As social media chaos mounted, many pundits questioned how organic Zack Snyder’s legion of fans really was. According to two reports commissioned by Warner Media and obtained by Rolling Stone magazine, at least 13% of accounts participating in the Snyder Cut conversation were fake, well above the 3-5% that cyber experts say they usually see in any trend. This makes a very clear idea of ​​the level of bots they were employing.

Two firms contacted by Rolling Stone magazine (Q5id Y graphika), specialized in tracking the authenticity of social media campaigns, also detected false activity coming from the Zack Snyder fan community. another signature, Alethea Groupdiscovered the website “forsnydercut”, who claims to have made the Snyder Cut hahstag go viral in May 2018 and became the hub for the director’s return to the DCEU, was registered to a person who also ran an advertising agency that promoted its ability to bring “instant and cheap traffic to your website.” Come on, a company that sold bots.

Rolling Stone magazine has spoken with more than twenty women involved, both in the League of Justice original as in the Snyder Cut. Most of them believe that Zack Snyder was working to manipulate the media campaign in his favor. For his part, the director states that “If anyone was pulling the strings on social media, it was Warner“. The director defends that the study was “trying to leverage my fan base to bolster subscribers to their new streaming service“. However, another Rolling Stone source believes just the opposite. “Zack was kind of like Lex Luthor, he was wreaking havoc“, He says.

The request for the return of Zack Snyder to the DCEU

League of Justice
Warner Bros. Pictures

For a time, rival studios like Marvel Studios and digital marketing executives were intrigued by the mobilization of Zack Snyder’s fans. They wondered how they could best harness the power of social media. Very soon, many began to question what appeared to be suspicious activity. Hahstags like the one for the Snyder Cut saturated social media starting in late 2019, racking up hundreds of thousands of tweets a day to pressure Warner to release the director’s cut. And, when the studio finally released it in March 2021, another hahstag popped up asking the studio to greenlight more DCEU movies with this director. They racked up over a million tweets a day. Things were starting to worry.

Just look at the drop. The first hashtag was trending with a million daily tweets. That was when they wanted to release the Snyder Cut. In a matter of days, it was reduced to just 40,000 tweets“, explained an executive related to digital marketing. The same executive who claimed that the Zack Snyder phenomenon had become the talk of Hollywood. “You don’t see a drop like that if we’re looking at something organic.” However, the executive maintains that it is a classic operation of “military movement in social networks“. As a kind of rearmament of the bases.

In mid-January 2021, three months before the Snyder Cut premiered, an Instagram account posted a gruesome image. It featured the decapitated heads of Geoff Johns, Walter Hamada Y Toby Emmerich. The image quickly circulated among the fandom. Zack Snyder devotees even tagged the accounts of some of the executive trio’s children to see the image. terrifying. Alarming posts such as this one prompted Warner Media, concerned for the safety of its employees, to take the unusual step of discreetly commissioning a series of reports from a cybersecurity firm. They wanted to analyze what was happening.

The escalation of violence on social media

League of Justice
Warner Bros. Pictures

Those reports had acquired almost legendary status within Warner Bros. Some even doubted their existence. However, a small group in the company did have access to them. The main report, dated April 2021 and titled “Social Media Presence of the Snyder Cut,” offered A chilling insight into the powerful movement for Zack Snyder.

After investigating online conversations about Zack Snyder and Snyder Cut hahstags, we’ve seen an increase in negative activity by real and fake authors.“. Those were the conclusions reached by analysts after the study. “An identified community was made up of real and fake authors spreading negative content about Warner Media for failing to restore a movie universe. In addition, three main leaders have been identified among the authors scanned on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. A leader for each platform. These leaders received the most engagement and have a large following, giving them the ability to influence public opinion.“.

Furthermore, according to the report, many authors were spreading “harmful content” about the then president of Warner Bros. Pictures, Ann Sarnoff. She had calledtoxic” to the Zack Snyder fan in an interview with Variety. “Most authors called her a liar“, for the claim that there was no Snyder Cut of the film. They demanded that Warner Media fire her immediately. These authors also began using hashtags calling for a boycott. In another internal report, an active sub-community was found solely dedicated to targeting Geoff Johns.

The cost to Warner? An investment of 100 million

Rolling Stone magazine asked three other cybersecurity and social media intelligence firms to analyze data related to Zack Snyder in the months leading up to the release of the Snyder Cut. They wanted to find signs of false activity on social networks. That activity can be revealed in a variety of ways, including attempts to manipulate discourse on social media or the use of software to automate posts. In addition to the participation activity, what we usually call bots. Q5id’s CIO and CTO, Becky Wantastates that analysis of his company indicates that “there is no doubt that bots were involved.”

There are certain patterns that the bots we saw here emit“, assures Wanta. “They arrive almost at the same time and in large numbers. And many times the origin of thousands or even millions of messages can be traced back to a single source or two. Sometimes they can be traced back to unusual servers in remote countries. And its content will be precisely similar“. That means a fandom amplified by fake accounts caused the Snyder Cut to be released for the benefit of Zack Snyder. This cost a major studio like Warner Bros. some $100 million in investment to reboot a movie that had flopped four years earlier.

The controversy is not over yet…

The campaign did not end with the release of the Snyder Cut on March 18, 2021. The Wrap reported in May that bots could have played a role in Zack Snyder winning two fan award statuettes at this year’s Oscars. And, according to social media firm Graphika, the pattern of a flood of mostly organic social media fans was augmented by a number of fake accounts. “We see clear signs of coordinated activity online between May and June of this year, when various communities pushed hahstags promoting the director and criticizing Warner.“, He says Avneesh ChandraGraphika data analyst.

Graphika Group notes that there are accounts that seemed to exist only to bomb social networks. Above all, the responses from the official Warner Media accounts with constant hashtags in favor of Zack Snyder. This is something that many of us have been able to verify in recent years. And, seen what has been seen, it is very far from disappearing… Although things are slowly calming down.