A clearer, albeit still shocking picture has emerged since sources revealed on Tuesday (August 2) that Warner Bros. would no longer release its nearly completed Batgirl movie on HBO Max or at theaters.
The film, starring Leslie Grace (In the Heights) in the title role, allegedly ballooned from a $75-million budget to $90 million due to pandemic-related issues. According to sources who spoke to Variety, the studio pulled the plug on the DC superhero movie because it would ultimately benefit the company when filing taxes. We’ll try to explain what happened without getting into the weeds.
Batgirl was initially being produced by an arm at Warner Bros. focused on expanding content on HBO Max. However, business plans changed when WarnerMedia officially merged with Discovery, Inc. this past April.
David Zaslav, the new CEO of the merged company, Warner Bros. Discovery, came into the role committed to releasing feature films at theaters. He had no interest in doing what the company did in 2021 when it released its entire slate of films on HBO Max and at theaters on the same day. These films included Godzilla vs. Kong, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Matrix Resurrections, Dune, and many others.
Zaslav’s decision left Batgirl in a tough spot since the movie was not “big enough” for a major theatrical release “nor small enough to make economic sense” to stream it on HBO Max. Plus, the studio wasn’t about to spend tens of millions more on marketing the film domestically and globally.
By scrapping Batgirl entirely, sources tell Variety that Warner Bros. Discovery can now take a tax write-off and recoup the cost of the movie. This likely means that it will not be able to release it exclusively on HBO Max or sell it to another studio.
Bottomline: What looks like a strategic move by studio executives is being perceived more like a slap in the face to DC Comics fans who have been anticipating a Batgirl movie for years. It’s no surprise that #ReleasetheBatgirlMovie and other similar hashtags are currently spreading across social media.