Warner Bros. has backed out of the $90 million “Batgirl” movie planned for HBO Max, according to a person connected to the film who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
The decision was highly unusual for such an expensive film in its final stages of completion. But the studio ultimately decided that “Batgirl” wasn’t worthy of either a streaming debut or a theatrical release, and instead opted to scrap the film entirely starring “In the Heights” star Leslie Grace as Batgirl and co-starring Michael Keaton (returning as Batman), JK Simmons and Brendan Fraser. It was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. Production was completed in April.
OFI Warner.’ decision, one without apparent parallel in Hollywood history, shocked the industry. When a big-budget film doesn’t live up to a studio’s expectations, it’s usually sold or quietly dropped with little fanfare. “Batgirl,” greenlit before WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery Inc., just won’t see the light of day after reportedly poor test screenings.
“We are saddened and shocked by the news. We still can’t believe it,” El Arbi and Fallah said in a statement on Wednesday. “As filmmakers, it’s important to show our work to the public, and while the film was a long way from completion, we wish fans around the world had the opportunity to see and embrace the final film for themselves. Maybe one day I will insha’Allah (God willing)’.
The directors signed theirs statementposted on Instagram, “Batgirl For Life.”
Change of strategy Warner
Under the new CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery , David Zaslav , Warner Bros. is changing its film release strategy and cutting costs. Under previous CEO Jason Kilar and partly in response to the pandemic, the studio implemented daily releases in 2021, opening movies simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. Other films, such as “Batgirl,” were produced exclusively for HBO Max.
This year, Warner Bros. returned to exclusive theaters for at least 45 days before sending movies to HBO Max. While “Batgirl” isn’t as expensive as many superhero movies, which typically cost $150-200 million to make, it’s a bigger-budget movie for an HBO Max title. Zaslav has maintained that bigger budget films are better served by a theatrical release. But marketing a movie like “Batgirl” to that kind of release would require tens of millions more. Warner Bros. Discovery is set to report second-quarter earnings on Thursday.
The representatives of Warner Bros. and Warner Bros. Discovery declined to comment. The “Batgirl” plans were first reported by the New York Post.
Warner Bros. also shelved “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” a near-complete sequel to “Scoob!” of 2020! Producer and writer Tony Cervone confirmed in an Instagram post Tuesday that “Scoob!” the film was canned.
“Yes, I’m afraid that’s true,” Cervone wrote. “The film is almost done and it came out beautifully. I am beyond heartbroken.”
The cancellation of “Batgirl” comes as Warner Bros. tries to revamp its DC Films business. While “The Batman” earlier this year performed well with $770.8 million in ticket sales, Warners’ DC releases have been shaky and plagued by controversy. “The Flash,” slated for release next June, stars Ezra Miller, who has been arrested twice this year in Hawaii on disorderly conduct and assault charges.
Warner Bros. hopes to reorganize and retool DC’s pipeline — make it bigger, not smaller with rival Marvel. Ultimately, “Batgirl” didn’t fit into those plans.