The Snyder Cut Had Locked Picture
While the exact status of the Snyder Cut can only be confirmed by its release, but thanks to a few key social media posts, we know what stages of production were completed. Some avid fans (such as John Doe Movie Reviews) have put together a fairly in-depth production timeline, but for the sake of establishing the state of the Snyder Cut, a couple key events are worth highlighting above the others.
First, and possibly most significant, is a post to his Vero account on February 17th, 2017, where Zack Snyder revealed that he was working with Stefan Sonnenfeld from Company 3. Stefan was a digital intermediate colorist for Justice League, meaning he was responsible for making color adjustments to give Justice League its final color palate. The reason this is significant is because color grading - or digital intermediate - is typically done after the picture is locked.
Picture lock means the unwieldy assembly cut has been whittled down and the scenes have been arranged to their final configuration. This does not mean visual effects or audio mixing is completed, but it does mean no more footage needs to be shot or edited, and the final runtime is probably set. Larry Fong, Snyder's Batman v Superman and Watchmen cinematographer and close friend from film school, commented on this image specifically, confirming that DI typically means a movie is completed, from the first frame to the end of the credits.
Is it possible Snyder was simply doing some DI testing when this picture was taken? Sure, but it's highly unlikely. One of the only examples of DI being done prior to picture lock is Ben Affleck's Live by Night, where he had dailies graded so they could ensure a specific look for the final product. But Live by Night was shot digitally on an Alexa 65, which made the - still tedious - daily color grading feasible. Justice League was shot on 35mm film, making any similar process practically impossible. The fact that Live by Night, a $65 million film, got attention for this abnormal process and Justice League didn't suggests Snyder's image with Sonnenfeld is a traditional DI session, meaning Justice League was picture locked on or before February 17th, 2017.
The DI process usually takes about ten days for a two-hour feature film, according to Red Shark, so the process was doubtless completed long before Snyder's exit from the project and he had moved onto the next stage of post-production. Ironically, Sonnenfeld ended up returning to Justice League for a second round of DI after Joss Whedon's reshoots, posting to Instagram in October (using one of Snyder's shots that didn't end up in the movie) to say work on the movie was almost completed, meaning the movie actually got color graded twice - once for the Snyder Cut and once for theatrical.
After DI is completed, the remaining tasks are completing VFX and audio mixing before the movie is mastered and distributed. Both of these stages were well under way during Snyder's watch, as evidenced by more social media breadcrumbs.
Page 3 of 4: Some Snyder Cut VFX Were Finalized