The DC Multiverse just got a little bit smaller.
Batgirl, the straight-to-HBO Max superhero movie, has been officially canceled by distributor Warner Bros, despite having completed production on the $90 million film.
Though post-production was not yet complete, the decision is a shocker on multiple levels, not least of which is that Batgirl (which starred In the Heights‘ Leslie Grace in the title role) was to play a part in the expanding DC multiverse, one that included the reappearance of Michael Keaton‘s Batman from the Tim Burton films.
Keaton is still set to appear in The Flash, where his aging Batman / Bruce Wayne will be reintroduced. That movie is currently scheduled for release in June 2023.
The bombshell news first broke in the New York Post and was quickly confirmed by the industry’s two leading trades, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. In a related move, the $40 million animated movie Scoob!: Holiday Haunt was also canned.
Reports suggest that, despite there being no displeasure with the film’s quality as it related to its budget, Batgirl‘s aesthetic didn’t match what comic book fans have come to expect from theatrical features that cost at least twice as much (or usually more).
In addition, sources say that the straight-to-streamer approach no longer fits the strategy being set by the new CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, and new studio chiefs Michael De Luca and Pamela Abbey. The regime has decided to re-emphasize theatrical distribution, a course that had recently been marginalized by the previous leadership in the wake of the COVID pandemic.
The ripple effect of WB’s 2021 hybrid strategy — i.e. theatrical-and-streamer day-and-date releasing — angered many filmmakers, including Christopher Nolan. His next film Oppenheimer will be Nolan’s first studio effort without WB; Universal is now working with the coveted director.
In the end, Batgirl didn’t meet WB’s renewed theatrical standards. As reported by The Wrap, Warners is “committed to making DC titles big theatrical event films, and Batgirl isn’t that.” Nevertheless, the studio is not upset with the film’s directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for Life, Disney+ Ms. Marvel) or its star Leslie Grace and plans to work with both in the future.
Another likely factor (and possibly the factor): streamers HBO Max and Discovery+ are on the verge of merging, with HBO Max likely being reduced to a subset of Discovery+. In doing so, original content for HBO Max will probably be reduced dramatically, and original movies nixed entirely. From a branding perspective, new original movies don’t have a place on the streamer. Unfortunately, Batgirl apparently doesn’t meet the standards of theatrical expectations.
It’s a bold move by Zaslav, a man who has quickly built a reputation on making bold moves.
In the year-plus since being named CEO of the newly merged conglomerate Warner Bros Discovery in May 2021, Zaslav has bucked conventional industry thinking. In an age of limitless spending by streamers (led by Netflix), Zaslav introduced a much-needed ethos of financial responsibility, replete with numerous belt-tightening and cost-cutting decisions that have since been embraced across Hollywood — including Netflix.
Even so, the decision to ditch Batgirl — a movie that not only involved Keaton’s Batman but also Brendan Fraser as the villain Firefly and J.K. Simmons‘ as Commissioner Gordon (from the Snyderverse) — is yet another unorthodox move from Zaslav, one that defines his unwavering conviction to not throw good money after bad, especially if the results don’t comply with the studio’s redefined long-term goals.
It’s all part of Zaslav’s effort to slash $3 billion from what are deemed tp be poor investments. Previous surprise cuts have included shutting down streamer CNN+ after just one month and a $300 million investment, as well as shelving the J.J. Abrams HBO sci-fi series Deminonde which came with a $200 million price tag.
But wouldn’t it be wild if the Batgirl cancellation ends up being a brilliant, subversive marketing move? One that fuels a viral #ReleaseTheBatgirlFilm campaign and skyrockets demand for it — all by design?!
One thought on “Holy Blindside! BATGIRL Movie With Keaton-Batman Canceled (FILM NEWS)”
This was the DUMBEST thing they have done yet, aside from letting Henry Cavill walk.