In a shocking move, Warner Bros has scrapped Batgirl, writing off a reported $100m in the process – the film won’t be released anywhere.
Ever since Warner Bros merged with AT&T and Discovery to create a mega-conglomerate, we’ve heard noises regarding a shift in the direction of the DCEU, away from smaller screen fare and towards high-end theatrical output. The Super Twins project was scrapped a couple of months ago, well before cameras rolled and being something of a fringe project, nobody seemed to mind. Now Warner Bros has taken a much larger stride in its new direction, cancelling the planned Batgirl film that was almost complete and writing off almost $100m in the process.
It’s a move that’s left the industry agog, with conflicting reports of test screenings meaning many are scratching their heads, baffled at the studio’s decision, first reported by The New York Post. In that report, the outlet states that audience responses to test screenings were not pleasing Warner Bros and ‘the studio decided to cut its losses and run’. Deadline however, are stating that screenings weren’t that negative and the studio’s new strategy of moving top-level IP away from ‘made for streaming’ was the reason.
In the same fashion that famously made Waterworld into a profitable film, the AT&T merger also reportedly means that Warner Bros will not have to carry losses from the films, (the almost-completed sequel to 2020’s animated Scoob! has also been canned), onto its ledger sheet. With the one-time opportunity to essentially write both films off as a tax-write-off, the company has elected to scrap them rather than release them on HBO Max, or in the case of Batgirl, spend more cash on the production to elevate it to the status of a major theatrical release.
Warner Bros released a rather hollow, corporate-sounding statement on the subject, stating: ‘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.”
It will certainly be interesting to see how pronounced the shockwaves are following this announcement. Unfavourable comparisons with Marvel’s detailed roadmap for its slate are sure to be made, not to mention what the reaction of screen luminaries who were set to feature, such as the returning Michael Keaton, might be. There’s also the element of this being one of the few superhero films featuring people of colour in key roles such as directors and star. Cancelling the film is sure to raise questions on that front too. On a lesser note, there’s also the impact the film’s cancellation might have on the overall plot of the DCEU, although at this point, we’re not sure there even is an overall direction.
So there you have it. What are your thoughts on the matter? Let us know in the comments below. As we hear more on this story, we’ll let you know.
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