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‘Batgirl’ movie scrapped at HBO Max: Reports cite cost-cutting at WB, 'irredeemable' test screenings
The Batgirl movie coming later this year to HBO Max is apparently no longer coming... anywhere.
Bad news, Barbara Gordon fans. The New York Post just brought word that Warner Bros. will no longer be releasing its standalone Batgirl movie starring Leslie Grace (In the Heights), despite the fact that the $70 - $100 million superhero project was nearly finished and ready for an exclusive streaming rollout on HBO Max. The studio had been hoping to release the movie in late 2022, but reportedly opted to "cut its losses and run, for the sake of the brand’s future" after a number of disastrous test screenings. "They think an unspeakable Batgirl is going to be irredeemable,” an insider told the Post.
The Hollywood Reporter chalks up the totally unexpected decision to aggressive money-saving measures in the wake of the recent merger with Discovery that has the new corporate entity shifting focus to theatrical endeavors like the upcoming Black Adam, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and The Flash. However, the real answer behind the move could actually lie somewhere between heightened fiscal responsibility and a totally unwatchable film.
In any case, the company's unabashed cost-cutting strategy has also resulted in the cancellation of the $40 million Scoob! Holiday Haunt, a Christmas-themed follow-up to 2020's Scoob!, whose voice cast included the likes of Frank Welker, Iain Armitage, Ariana Greenblatt, McKenna Grace, Pierce Gagnon, Mark Hamill, Cristo Fernandez, Michael McKean, Andre Braugher, and Ming-Na Wen.
Variety, meanwhile, asserts that the shelving option allows the studio to "take a tax write-down on both films, seen internally as the most financially sound way to recoup the costs ... Doing so, however, would mean that Warner Bros. cannot monetize either movie — no HBO Max debut, no sale to another studio."
“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson in a statement published by THR. “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.”
Penned by Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey, The Flash), Batgirl was also slated to feature the return of Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons as Burton-era Bruce Wayne and Snyderverse Commissioner Gordon, respectively. Doom Patrol alum Brendan Fraser had been tapped to play fiery antagonist Garfield Lynns, aka Firefly. Ivory Aquino would have rounded out the ensemble as Alysia Yeoh, Barbara's best friend and the first live-action trans character in the DC Universe.
"In this story, she's discovering Batgirl for the first time and so, she's getting to explore a duality she's always had in her personality," Hodson teased at DC FanDome last fall. "But it's this whole new side of her personality. A slightly kind of more daring, slightly less law-abiding side of her personality that we get to have fun and play with ... Honestly, I just feel like the luckiest writer on Earth."
"She's a girly girl, but she also is so capable of being strong and being determined and kicking butt," added Grace. "She wants to prove herself, but she's also still so sweet. A lot of times we focus on the male superheroes, but it was really exciting to read for a female superhero that has that grit and is very sincere and almost eager to prove herself."
Per The Wrap, WB still hopes to work with Grace and co-directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for Life, Ms. Marvel) on something else in future. This is the second high-profile Batgirl movie attempt to fall apart in recent years after Avengers filmmaker Joss Whedon tried and failed to bring the Gotham City hero to the big screen. All in all, it's been a pretty rough year for Warner's comic book division, which currently faces a dilemma over the $200 million Flash project amid mounting scandals surrounding Ezra Miller.
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