In a surprising development, Warner Bros. no longer publish Bat girl, the DC movie that already finished filming and was expected to hit HBO Max this year. The unusual move comes after a change in management at Warners, with the newly installed Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav who prioritized cost-cutting measures and refocused Warners on making theatrical films instead of projects for streaming, which had been a priority of former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar.
Bat girl was budgeted at around $80 million, with costs rising to nearly $90 million due to COVID-19 protocols. That’s a hefty sum, but significantly lower than DC theatrical releases, and so the film is said to lack the spectacle that audiences have come to expect from DC fare. (Batmanreleased in March, had a budget of $185 million, before marketing costs.) Warners has also decided to shelve animated features Scoob!: Holiday Hauntwhich had a budget of 40 million dollars.
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Bat girl stars In the Heights broke out Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl—the first Latina to play the role—and hails from Bad Boys for Life filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. The cast also includes Michael Keaton, back as Batman, JK Simmons as Barbara’s father, Commissioner James Gordon, and Brendan Fraser as the villain Firefly. The New York Post first reported Bat girl would be scrapped.
“The decision not to release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift regarding the DC Universe and HBO Max,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson said. in a statement. “Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actress and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Bat girl and Scoob! Holiday resort and their respective casts, and we hope to work with all of them again in the near future.”
Insiders say big-budget films made directly for streaming no longer make financial sense under the company’s new strategy. In June, Zaslav lost MGM’s Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy to run Warners, replacing Toby Emmerich.
Management at Warner Bros. Discovery had been looking to find $3 billion in cost savings after the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery closed in April. Big cuts along the way for the conglomerate have included streaming service CNN+, which cost $300 million before pulling the plug a month after launch, and JJ Abrams’ expensive HBO original Demimondewhich aimed to have a budget of over $200 million.
Meanwhile, HBO Max has reduced its programming focus area for originals, cutting The Gordita Chronicles after a single season as part of a strategic shift away from live-action children and family programming. Linear networks under Warner Bros. The Discovery umbrella such as TNT and TBS have also had originals cut in recent months.
Under Kilar, Warners smashed the theatrical window, sending its 2021 day-and-date to HBO Max in a one-year experiment. Now, Zaslav seems to be engineering a total reversal in emphasizing the importance of theatrical overflow when it comes to original films.
Bat girl has walked a winding road up to this point. Joss Whedon first signed on to write and direct in 2017, then dropped out a year later. bat girl’s directors, who work under the name Adil & Bilall, came on board in 2021 as they were keen to revitalize Bad Boys franchise.
In January this year, Grace shared the first look image of himself in costume, along with a quote from the cartoon Batgirl: Year One: “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 up, let me kick their asses.”
2 August at 20.28 Updated to include statement from Warner Bros.
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