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These Are Zack Snyder's Biggest Box Office Flops

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It's been years in the making, but Zack Snyder's Justice League has finally landed on the HBO Max streaming platform. And by most accounts, the four-hour action epic Snyder conjured from the ashes of the unmitigated disaster that was 2017's Justice League more than redeems the woulda-been super-team franchise machine he was originally eyeing. Of course, by now, we know Snyder wasn't entirely to blame for Justice League's shortcomings, with Joss Whedon stepping in late in production and almost entirely overhauling the project. That questionable move was also further complicated by some behind-the-scenes drama that was apparently far more serious than anyone not directly involved might've realized. 

Still, Justice League wasn't a total bust for Warner Bros., netting north of $650 million during its tumultuous theatrical run and doing so despite less-than-favorable word-of-mouth and even less favorable critical notes. As it is, ticket sales are less of a concern in the Snyder Cut equation thanks to its streaming-only release. And after a first wave of largely positive reviews, HBO and Warner Bros. are no doubt bracing for record-breaking viewership numbers. Even as Zack Snyder's Justice League is shaping up to be a streaming hit for HBO Max, not every big-budget movie bearing the Snyder name and "style over everything" approach has been quite as fortunate in overcoming the odds at the box office.

In fact, the director's effects-laden, doom-and-gloom approach has produced a couple of legit stinkers that dramatically underwhelmed at the multiplex over the years — even if it's yet to produce a film that completely failed to make back its budget. Here's a look at Zack Snyder's biggest box office busts to date.

Zack Snyder's Watchmen sadly underwhelmed in its theatrical run

Those who've been tracking Zack Snyder's career since the early days know he made his name in Hollywood on the strength of two genre spectaculars that couldn't have been farther apart in terms of style and narrative ambition. The first was the mostly marvelous horror retread Dawn of the Dead (2004), which found Snyder reworking George A. Romero's iconic zombie confection with a crackling screenplay from James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy). The second was a boldly stylized, testosterone-driven adaptation of Frank Miller's brutalist graphic novel 300, about Sparta's brave, bloody stand against the invading Persian Empire.

The critical and commercial success of those films essentially opened the door for Snyder to make whatever film he wanted in their wake. And comic book fans were almost universally over the moon when Snyder announced his 300 follow-up would be an equally ambitious adaption of Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbons' legendary anti-superhero saga Watchmen.

Snyder's Warner Bros. bosses were clearly among the most excited about Watchmen, fronting the director a reported $130 million to bring the movie to life on the big screen. They were no doubt expecting a substantial return on their investment, too, as Watchmen is one of the most revered, wildly original graphic novels in the history of the form. While few could argue that Snyder didn't deliver a visually stunning film, Watchmen's stark, gloomy subject matter and lengthy runtime didn't exactly encourage audiences to line up for repeat viewings. That fact was more than reflected in the film's less-than-blockbuster box office tally, which came to just over $185 million worldwide. While that haul doesn't exactly translate to "flop," it's safe to say everyone involved with Watchmen was expecting far more bang for their buck.  

Sucker Punch is now a cult classic, but it's still Zack Snyder's biggest flop

Luckily, Zack Snyder's Watchmen has become a bit of a cult hit in the years since its release and undoubtedly got a substantial profile boost once HBO's utterly brilliant 2019 limited series "continued" the story of Earth's mightiest (and/or craziest) vigilantes. But in terms of "cult hit" credibility, even the most die-hard of Watchmen defenders would have to admit Snyder's 2011 offering has that film beat. As it happens, Sucker Punch also stands as Snyder's biggest box office bust to date.

Even after the underwhelming performance of the pricey Watchmen and Snyder's big-budget animated follow-up Legend of the Guardians, Warner Bros. had no trouble ponying up another $82 million for Snyder's first wholly original concept. Those who've seen Sucker Punch can no doubt attest to it being probably the purest distillation of Snyder's cinematic leanings, with the filmmaker co-writing, directing, and producing a wilder-than-wild tale of an institutionalized young woman (Emily Browning) who retreats to fantastical inner worlds (where she and her fellow inmates are transformed into scantily clad ass-kicking heroes of their own action-packed story) rather than deal with the harsh realities of her own.   

Yes, that story is as wild as you can imagine, with Browning leading her team on a series of hyper-violent, video-gamey adventures that have to be seen to be believed. Likewise, Snyder delivers another visual stunner that will floor even the biggest of Snyder or Sucker Punch cynics. Unfortunately, the narrative of Sucker Punch rarely elevates itself above video-game scripting. Like Watchmen, the film ultimately proved too niche for its own good, bringing in an underwhelming $89 million in ticket sales and likely leaving Snyder's Warner Bros. bosses once again scratching their heads.