Snyder fans should be more than happy today after finally recieving the first official trailer for Army of the Dead. Zack is not only the director that brought us DC films like Man of Steel and Justice League, but also famously made his theatrical debut with 2000’s Dawn of the Dead.
Now, one would say there is a lot riding on this project… Let’s break down why.
First in a while: This Netflix original will be his first non-DC project since 2006’s 300, making this his first original in over fifteen years. That’s a big deal! Snyder has created iconic projects in his time and has managed to create his unique signature on film. This being his first original in a while just puts emphasis on the question if his best is behind him or is it just yet to come? My hopes would be for the latter. Snyder has built a loyal group of fans over the years since his time with DC films, and though many of those will be ride-or-die regardless of how the movie does critically, there’s no doubt that it needs to be able to gather the support of general audiences as well; a challenge he seems more that equipped to take considering previous movies like the ones mentioned and cult classics like Sucker Punch have certainly withstood the test of time.
Record Potential for Streaming: As we take a look at the “streaming wars,” despite the birth of multiple new platforms, Netflix stills holds a critical leadership position. Therefore, for analysis, I want to focus the following just on Netflix original movie performances.
Currently, the top three most viewed movies on Netflix are, from third to first, Spenser Confidential, Bird Box, and Extraction with the first place holding 99 million views. Does Army of the Dead have a chance of claiming first place? Not only do I think it does but it almost seems constructed specifically for that purpose.
When we take a look at the top three, Snyder’s project is like a perfect fusion of their parts; we have an action comedy about a group of misfits taking on gangs, a post-apocalyptic thriller of people not trying to get killed by supernatural creatures, and an action-thriller with suspense and explosions… All three combined make Army of the Dead.
For the movie to not just take number one on the top ten for streaming it’s first weekend, but also top this most-watched list overall, will register as a huge win for the director and Snyder fans as well.
Box office opportunity: We can’t forget that the world is slowly doing its best to reopen. That means theaters are a part of that equation as well. Army of the Dead will release in select theaters before it hits streaming on May 14.
Currently, Warner Media’s Godzilla vs. Kong holds the post-COVID box office record with a $69.5 million domestic gross over its opening weekend. Not only that, but the kaiju epic was also reported to break HBOMax records as it premiered on the streaming service at the same time as it did theatrically.
What has bummed Snyder fans out is the fact that Warner has been more than eager to share the success of Godzilla vs. Kong but has been silent as the grave about Zack Snyder’s Justice League‘s performance. We do have third party data regarding ZSJL but nothing compares to the cold hard studio actuals. Sadly, we likely will never get that information.
This lack of evidence for the director’s pull is just one of the reasons why Snyder fans (who have been well organized on Twitter over the last few weeks promoting their interest for more Snyder-lead DC projects) will take their chances in theaters to see his new original; turn internet support into actual dollars.
Even I have my fingers crossed that Army of the Dead can make some real noise at the box office to have some justice (no pun intended) for the director.
Snyderverse: This is the piece that’s the most curiuous and, unfortunately, the least likely. Yes, Army of the Dead has Director credibility on the line, Netflix records on the line, and pandemic box office records on the line, but the one that many diehard fans know is that the Snyderverse may be on the line as well.
It’s no secret that Warner wants to bury the Snyderverse and move on creatively with their DC properties. However, lucky for us, the ultimate decision comes down to studio executive Jason Kilar who oversees HBOMax directly and is superior to both Walter Hamada (head of DC film) and Ann Sarnoff.
Business is business. Even if Zack Snyder’s Justice League didn’t break every record of all time there is no doubt that, objectively, it was a success for HBOMax. The film received praise from both critics and fans (highest fan score for a comic book movie on Rotten Tomatoes), and managed to gather 1.5 million tweets (beating Avengers Endgame for most tweets in a 24-hour period for a film) for support for future movies. Warner Media may be mute about restoring the Snyderverse, but if Army of the Dead manages to achieve these goals then it will confirm there is more than just interest in the DC characters; there is passion for the man behind the camera as well and it would be foolish not to capitalize.