After the announcement of Warner Bros. Discovery to scrap their DC Extended Universe feature batgirlstarring Leslie Grace, the internet went into a frenzy to rationalize this unprecedented decision. The film went through a well-known wringer, spurred on by the pandemic, after its initial $75 million budget was expanded by $15 million. Despite reaching the $90 million post-production stage, it makes batgirl a relatively big-budget affair (but not quite DC big-budget), on Aug. 2, the studio shook fans and media alike when they vaguely declared the feature a failure. According to Varietyseveral sources state that the most likely culprit batgirlIts untimely and unprecedented demise can be summed up in… taxes?
Sources trying to justify scrapping the project say directors Adil El Arbic and Bilall Fallah‘s batgirl became a fatal victim of bad timing, and is ultimately a sacrifice to profit. While Warner Bros. was fully committed to bolstering their streaming service, HBO Max, under Jason Kilar and Ann Sarnoff during batgirl‘s production, the DC Extended Universe feature fell into the mouth of the new CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery David Zaslavstrategic shift.
A Warner Bros. spokesperson gave The Hollywood Reporter an official statement on the decision not to proceed with batgirl:
“The decision not to release Batgirl reflects the strategic shift of our leadership regarding the DC universe and HBO Max. Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her achievements. We are the filmmakers of batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective cast and we hope to work with everyone again in the near future.”
During the production of the film, the heads of Warner Bros. Kilar and Sarnoff made a number of efforts to bolster HBO Max, including the decision to go live en masse with the 2021 full-length feature film. The risk proved successful in garnering a large subscriber base, but hampered the studio’s relationships with a number of prominent celebrities and agents, later modified with ‘generous bonuses’. When Zaslav, a notoriously budget-conscious penny pincher, took over after the Warner Bros. merger. and Discovery in the spring of 2022, the direct-to-stream tactic was again rejected for theatrical first feature films. Therein lies batgirl‘s ruin, supposedly.
El Arbi and Fallah’s anticipated DCEU bridge, which was deemed neither large enough for the return to theatrical releases nor economically small enough to withstand the streaming-only gauntlet, received the axe. Despite the full cast, including JK Simmons‘ reprisal from Commissioner James Gordon and Michael Keaton as batman, Brendan Fraser as the villain from the movie Firefly, and Ivory Aquino as one of the first regular transgender vigilantes Alysia Yeoh, Zaslav reportedly needed the money to expand batgirl to theaters that aren’t worth the cost. This, on top of rumors that the final product didn’t quite live up to viewers’ standards, assures batgirl won’t be coming out of the shadows anytime soon.
Rather than spend directly to HBO Max as intended, or shell out the $30 to $50 million needed to market and release the film, Warner Bros. Discovery eat the $90 million and future “creative capital” in favor of taxes. depreciation. What this will mean for the DCEU is currently up in the air, following issues with The flashweak reviews for past movies and actor in the past who donned a hood ben Affleck‘s-he-don’t-he wants involvement with the universe. While Zaslav is apparently committed to getting DC in shape, this remarkably unusual decision to shelve a post-production movie is admittedly an odd way to go about it.
DC’s next movie, Black Adam starring Dwayne Johnson, will hit theaters October 21. You can watch the full trailer below: