Warner Bros. Discovery has reportedly shelved Batgirl which was originally planned to be released on HBO Max, but then moved to a theatrical release sometime in 2022. The New York Post was the first to report.
After spending over $90 million, exceeding the original $70 million, the decision to shelve the film which starred Leslie Grace (In the Heights) as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon and featured J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Brendan Fraser as Garfield Lynns/Firefly and Ivory Aquino as DC’s first trans character and Barbara Gordon’s best friend Alysia Yeoh, was a complete shock to all who worked on the film.
To add insult to injury, neither the directors nor the cast of the film was warned that the film was scrapped. After learning the news from the press, directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for Life, Ms. Marvel) shared a statement on Instagram voicing their disappointment:
Canceled for Tax Reasons
The film was in the later stages of post-production and had already been screened. While initial reports suggested that the film’s test screenings “were said to be so poorly received by moviegoers that the studio decided to cut its losses and run, for the sake of the brand’s future. It’s a DC disaster,” Variety is now reporting that the film is being shelved because Warner Bros. Discovery can use it as a “tax write-down.”
“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” the company wrote in a statement first reported by Deadline. The statement continued, “Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance.”
The decision to move the film from HBO Max to a theatrical release was hinted at back in April by Warner Bros.’s then-chair, Toby Emmerich, but Emmerich stepped down in June to form his own production company, not long after Warner Bros. merged with Discovery and David Zaslav became the CEO of the new entity. Zaslav replaced Emmerich with MGM’s Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy.
Zaslav seems to be scrapping what he can so he can start over with a clean slate in an attempt to rival Kevin Feige’s super successful and cohesive MCU. In addition to Batgirl, Scoob! Holiday Haunt, a sequel to the 2020 animated film Scoob!, has apparently also been shelved.
WBD seems to be remarkably quiet about their plans for Ezra Miller’s The Flash which is allegedly expected to be released June 23, 2023 and features both Keaton and Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne. But there is chatter that the film could also not see the light of day.
So far the projects that appear to be safe from the chopping block are Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Black Adam, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, a sequel to its billion-dollar Joker and third Wonder Woman film, but who knows at this point.
News of these cancellations comes just before Warner Bros Discovery’s quarterly earnings report which will be revealed on Thursday. After WB chose to release their films directly to the HBO Max streaming service during the height of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Zaslav is making significant changes to the company’s slate of products since taking over including killing streaming service CNN+ over insufficient subscriber numbers and removing films from HBO Max, including The Witches starring Anne Hathaway and An American Pickle which stars Seth Rogan. WBD has not given any explanation for this, and the removal was first noticed by commenters on Reddit.
This huge shakeup could actually be a positive move for the DCEU, however, fans are rightfully disappointed that we won’t be seeing Grace’s Batgirl.