In one of the most stunning show business developments in years, Warner Bros. has canceled HBO Max’s Batgirl movie, despite the fact that the film had reportedly been finished already. It won’t come out in theaters, it won’t come out on HBO Max as planned, and as far as we know, it won’t come out at all.
Rumors about the movie being shelved first popped up in The New York Post, which said sources referred to the movie as “irredeemable” after test screenings. A Hollywood Reporter story that confirms the rumor says that part of the problem was budget, with Batgirl not having enough money to capture the “spectacle” that people expect from “DC fare” while also blowing past its original budget due to COVID delays and other issues. So it cost too much money, but not enough of that money was on the screen, as they say.
But to be clear: No explanation can really make any sense out of this. Surely releasing any movie is more cost-effective than spending (reportedly) $90 million on a movie just to put it on a shelf, especially if that movie was going to go to streaming anyway. Has Warner Bros. seen the shit Netflix puts out every week?
This is Warner Bros. we’re talking about, though, which has been absolutely gutted by cost-cutting measures since its merger with Discovery. Tons of shows and movies have been canceled already, to say nothing of layoffs, but this goes way beyond regular cost-cutting. It’s not only a huge blow to DC superhero movies (and their fans), but it apparently accompanies a general plan to move away from streaming movies period (Scoob! sequel Holiday Haunt has also been canned, but Batgirl’s the headline here), which seems like a huge vote of no confidence for HBO Max—the streaming service that one year ago was shouldering Warner’s entire movie business.
Batgirl, which will apparently now never come out, starred In The Heights’ Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon (we saw her in the costume and everything), with J.K. Simmons from the Snyder movies returning as Commissioner Gordon, Michael Keaton from the Burton movies (plus the upcoming Flash movie, which is somehow not the one getting canceled) returning as Batman, and Brendan Fraser appearing as Batgirl: Year One villain Firefly. It was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who recently worked on Ms. Marvel and were just talking about Batgirl a few weeks ago. We cannot stress this enough: This is wild.