Zack Snyder is stepping down from directing Justice League, EW has confirmed.
Snyder and his wife Deborah, also a producer on the film, are taking time away to deal with a family tragedy. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Snyder revealed that his 20-year-old daughter, Autumn, died by suicide in March.
The movie, which is set to debut on Nov. 17, 2017, went on a two-week hiatus in the aftermath of the tragedy. Snyder then flew to London to film some reshoots scripted by Joss Whedon, who is also helming Batgirl for Warner Bros. (The two had been collaborating for the past months on fixes to the upcoming tentpole movie.)
Snyder said he found returning to work untenable and has asked Whedon to come aboard to oversee the rest of the film.
“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,” Snyder told THR. “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.”
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Warner Bros., which initially suggested pushing back the release date, was amenable to Whedon finishing the film.
Said Warner Bros. production president Toby Emmerich in the THR story: “The directing is minimal, and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set,” says Emmerich. “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.”