Leslie Grace, Michael Keaton, and Brendan Fraser feature in the previously announced Batgirl movie. Warner Bros. Discovery has surprisingly stated that the movie won’t be released at all, despite having already wrapped up filming and being in post-production.
The movie, which is being directed by the Ms. Marvel directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, was initially approved in 2021 as part of a larger Warner Bros. initiative to produce movies, especially for the streaming channel HBO Max. However, the studio announced on Tuesday that the movie would never be released in any capacity, either on HBO Max or in theatres.
It chooses not to comment more.
#ReleaseBatgirl 'The Post quoted one source saying that after poor receptions from test audiences, Warner Bros. thought the movie “is going to be irredeemable.” Clearly, those test audiences never saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.' https://t.co/GMBiZgufW2
— Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) August 3, 2022
Along with Grace as the title heroine Barbara Gordon, JK Simmons as Barbara’s father, Commissioner Gordon, and Fraser as the villain Firefly, Keaton was set to reprise his role as Batman in Batgirl.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the budget for Batgirl, which had increased to around $90 million (£74.1 million, A$130 million) because of expenses related to it being shot during the Covid-19 outbreak, was a deciding factor. Despite having a smaller budget than the normal DC superhero movie, it was apparently concluded that because it lacked the “spectacle that moviegoers have come to anticipate from DC fare,” it would not make up for its losses by being seen by audiences.
The New York Post, which first reported the story on Tuesday, cited an anonymous source who claimed that the budget actually exceeded $100 million and that Warner Bros. chose to cut its losses because the movie did so poorly in early test screenings.
A minute after this story posted got a call from a rival studio exec who was floored by move. "Worked in this town for three decades and this is some unprecedented shit right here." https://t.co/A3aBLPulWz
— Justin Kroll (@krolljvar) August 2, 2022
The insider told the New York Post that “they think an unspeakable Batgirl is going to be irredeemable.”
The decision makes the movie one of the most expensive film projects that have ever been shelved.
The action was taken in the midst of a leadership transition following Warner Bros’ merger with Discovery in May 2021. According to reports, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav is prioritizing cost-cutting and refocusing the studio on theatrical films rather than streaming projects. Zaslav recently oversaw shutting down its $300 million streaming service CNN+ one month after it launched.
According to sources who stated that it was “seen internally as the most financially sound way to recoup the costs (at least, on an accountant’s ledger),” Adam B Vary and Brent Lang wrote in Variety that the studio would be able to “take a tax write-down” if they decided to completely cancel Batgirl.
Since the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, a number of shows have been canceled, including Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, The Last OG, and Chad. A DC Comics movie based on The Wonder Twins that was in development has also been canceled.