First Photo Leslie Grace As Batgirl

Warners Abruptly Scraps “Batgirl” Release

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In a move that has sent shockwaves in the industry, Warner Bros. Pictures has abruptly scrapped any planned release of its “Batgirl” movie which cost $90 million to produce.

First reported in The New York Post and subsequently confirmed by the trades and The Wrap, the film will not premiere on any platform at the studio – neither theatrically nor on HBO Max.

The same goes for “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” a follow-up to the 2020 animated Scooby-Doo film “Scoob!”. Footage from that film was shown in a sizzle reel for HBO Max back in December and Warners is taking a relatively smaller $40 million bath on that one. Producer/writer Tony Cervone has already responded to the news, saying on Twitter: “The movie is practically finished and turned out beautifully. I am beyond heartbroken.”

The “Batgirl” scrapping is the real surprise as the project wrapped filming months ago with directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah well into the final stages of post-production with the project in the middle of test screenings. The original NY Post report says those test screenings were not going well and claims “the studio decided to cut its losses and run”. Deadline disputed the claim, saying one screening was held and the result “wasn’t that bad”.

“Batgirl” stars Leslie Grace as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon along with JK Simmons as Commissioner Jim Gordon, Brendan Fraser as the villain Firefly and Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne.

Initial reports suggested the decision was driven entirely by a desire for the studio’s slate of DC features to be at a blockbuster scale and “Batgirl” was budgeted as a direct-to-HBO Max release. However a quick follow-up report in Variety has several sources suggesting a more basic reason to the outlet – a tax write-off.

“Batgirl” was greenlit and made under the previous regime at Warners before the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery and its CEO David Zaslav took over this Spring. Zaslav has made it clear he intends to commit to releasing first-run feature films in theaters before putting them on HBO Max.

Thus “Batgirl” was in a bind. Expanding the scope of the film with additional filming along with releasing the movie theatrically backed by a large marketing campaign could’ve nearly doubled its costs at a studio newly focused on belt-tightening.

An HBO Max debut would seem obvious, but by shelving it and the “Scoob!” sequel, the company will almost certainly take a tax write-down on both films, according to the trade’s sources. Financially it will allow them to recoup the costs, but by doing so Warner Bros. cannot monetize either movie so no streaming release and no selling it off to another studio or streamer.

Deadline adds that as the company has changed hands and changed strategy from the previous regime, the opportunity for such a ‘purchase accounting maneuver’ expires in mid-August and so they don’t expect other films to get killed like this because the window to do so will be closed shortly.

Warner Bros Discovery has also released a statement: “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.”

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