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Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, the co-directors of Warner Bros.' now-canceled Batgirl film, have sounded off on the company's surprising decision to shelve the DC Extended Universe project, which would have starred Leslie Grace (In the Heights) in the role of Barbara Gordon. The title was purportedly eyeing a late 2022 release date on HBO Max.
"We are saddened and shocked by the news," the filmmakers — whose resume also includes Bad Boys for Life and Ms. Marvel — wrote in a statement posted to their joint Instagram account. "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 an opportunity to see and embrace the final final film themselves. Maybe one day they will In sha'Allah."
"I am proud of the love, hard work, and intention all of our incredible cast and tireless crew put into this film over seven months in Scotland," added Grace on her Instagram page. "I feel blessed to have worked among absolute greats and forged relationships for a lifetime in the process! To every Batgirl fan — THANK YOU for the love and belief, allowing me to take on the cape and become, as Babs said best, 'My own damn hero!'"
According to sources reportedly in the know, the choice to shelve the $90 million movie came down to two main factors: poor test screenings and CEO David Zaslav's desire to slash corporate spending in the wake of the Warner-Discovery merger. As Variety put it, the studio can recoup production costs by leveraging Batgirl and the $40 million Scoob! sequel, Holiday Haunt, into a pair of tax write-offs. This strategy means that "Warner Bros. cannot monetize either movie — no HBO Max debut, no sale to another studio." Nothing.
"Our amazing cast and crew did a tremendous job and worked so hard to bring Batgirl to life," continued El Arbi and Fallah. "We are forever grateful to have been a 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. In any case, as huge fans of Batman since we were little kids, it was a privilege and honor to have been a part of the DCEU, even if it was for a brief moment. Batgirl for life."
The silver lining in all of this is that WB reportedly still hopes to work with Grace and the co-directors in future.
“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” a studio spokesperson in a statement published by The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday. “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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