In a surprise move, Warner Bros. has scrapped the release of Batgirl, the DC film headlined by Leslie Grace that already completed shooting and will not premiere on any platform at the studio-neither theatrically nor on HBO Max. The unusual move comes after a change in leadership at Warner Bros. with newly installed Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav looking to prioritize cost-cutting measures and pivoting the company’s focus back on creating theatrical films rather than projects for streaming, as has been a priority for former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar. This has left Batgirl without a proper home as well as Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, a sequel to the 2020 film Scoob!, has been shelved by the studio.
Batgirl starring Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl – the first Latina to play the role and directed by Bad Boys for Life and Ms. Marvel filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah — was greenlit in 2021 as a measure to produce content specifically for HBO Max. The film was budgeted at around $80 million, with costs rising to nearly $90 million due to COVID-19 protocols. Studio insiders say that even though the budget was a hefty sum it was still significantly lower than DC theatrical releases, thus the film could not match up to the blockbuster spectacle that audiences have come to expect from DC fare. The Batman, released in March has a budget of $185 million, before marketing costs. Batgirl also starred Michael Keaton, back as Batman, J.K. Simmons as Barbara’s father, Commissioner James Gordon, and Brendan Fraser as the villain Firefly.
“I use their expectations against them. That will be their weakness. Not mine. Let them all underestimate me…
And when their guard is down, and their pride is rising, let me kick their butts.”
- Batgirl, Year One
— Leslie Grace (@lesliegrace) January 15, 2022
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Warner Bros. in a statement said, “The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max. Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.”
The animated feature Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, which had a budget in the $40 million range was also scrapped by the studio as its cost-cutting measures following merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery closed in April. The decision still comes as a shock as studios never shelve projects outright and try to get some return on its investment.
(Source: The New York Post)