The day after the David Zaslav-run Warner Bros Discovery completely shelved the HBO Max DC movie Batgirl which is in post production, the pic’s directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have responded with a statement.
“We are saddened and shocked by the news. We still can’t believe it. As directors, it is critical that our work be shown to audiences, and while the film was far from finished, we wish that fans all over the world would have had the opportunity to see and embrace the final film themselves,” said the duo in an Instagram post which you can read below.
Both directors Deadline were in Morocco for El Arbi’s wedding when they first learned about Batgirl‘s bad news.
Again a big upset here to all those involved in making this movie.
“Our amazing cast and crew did a tremendous job and worked so hard to bring Batgirl to life. We are forever grateful to have been part of that team. It was a dream to work with such fantastic actors like Michael Keaton, J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser, Jacob Scipio, Corey Johnson, Rebecca Front and especially the great Leslie Grace, who portrayed Batgirl with so much passion, dedication and humanity,” said the filmmakers in their statement.
They signed off on the post saying, “Batgirl for Life.”
As Deadline told you yesterday, Warner Bros Discovery took advantage of a “purchase accounting” maneuver available to the conglom because the company changed hands. That opportunity expires in mid-August, and allows WBD to not have to carry the losses on its books at a time when the studio is trying to find $3 billion in cost saving synergies; this particular film costing around $70M. It’s interesting that the scrapping of Batgirl gets announced before Warner Bros Discovery’s big quarterly earnings call tomorrow.
Furthermore, making movies directly for HBO Max is just not part of Zaslav’s agenda; Batgirl greenlit under the Jason Kilar WarnerMedia regime. Again, the town remains in shock to see a notable branded movie shelved so late in post-production.
Other reasons why Warners tossed Batgirl stem from the film potentially upsetting the DC multiverse continuum which is being set-up in The Flash, due out in theaters on July 23, 2023. Batgirl was planned to be dropped on the service before Flash. We heard the first round of testing for Batgirl wasn’t that bad. However, we hear from both internal WB sources and non-WB sources (who were part of a test group) that Flash, despite all the Ezra Miller tabloid headlines, is really amazing. Maintaining and restoring the gloss of the DC brand for Zaslav is a priority as he’s on the look for a new czar to lead the comics division across film, TV and all ancillaries.
There was a big casting call for Batgirl with Isabella Merced, Zoey Deutch , Leslie Grace and Haley Lu Richardson in the mix as Deadline’s Justin Kroll first told you. Grace won the roll, and has been a big champ on social media for the film. Optically it doesn’t look good for Warner Bros Discovery to kill a film with a Latina lead star at a time when the industry is in great need of diverse content. You can see an earlier tweet from her below about the film.
Warners released a statement last night, trying to sweep the debris of axing a Latina led movie under the rug: “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.”
El Arbi and Fallah directed two episodes of Disney+’s Ms. Marvel as well as Bad Boys for Life which rebooted that franchise before the pre-pandemic and grossed over $426M WW.
“I use their expectations against them. That will be their weakness. Not mine. Let them all underestimate me…
And when their guard is down, and their pride is rising, let me kick their butts.”
– Batgirl, Year One
— Leslie Grace (@lesliegrace) January 15, 2022