Warner Bros. Discovery has decided to pull the plug on its anticipated Batgirl movie, effectively flushing $90 million down the drain. The flick was initially scheduled to air on HBO Max in late 2022, with the option for a theatrical release down the road. But now, the entire venture has been scrapped altogether.
“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. Pictures spokesperson said, per The Wrap. “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.”
The news is another unwelcome blow to the DC Extended Universe, which has repeatedly struggled to keep pace with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One Hollywood insider told the New York Post that moviegoers rated early test screenings of Batgirl so poorly that studio execs actually considered the project “irredeemable.” This information undoes a previous rumor that said the first test screening of the movie was positive.
However, there is another rumor being floated as to why Warner Bros. Discovery is shelving Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt: taxes. According to Variety, company CEO David Zaslav considered the projects “neither big enough to feel worthy of a major theatrical release nor small enough to make economic sense in an increasingly cutthroat streaming landscape.” So it made more sense to can the movie early and treat it as a tax write-down, especially given its lackluster reception prior to the official release.
But with axing Batgirl, Warner Bros. Discovery is also opening itself up to another problem: claims that the company lacks diversity. The film was set to feature Leslie Grace, the 27-year-old Dominican-American star of In The Heights, in the title role.
“Discovery over the years had done a poor job in terms of Latino representation in almost every facet of their business — on screen, behind the camera, executives and so forth,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Joaquin Castro said in a recent Bloomberg interview.
And while he acknowledged that WarnerMedia was doing its part to address the issue before its merger with Discovery earlier this year, Castro also became worried “those efforts would go away.”
“Oh my god, there were a lot of night shoots,” Grace said in an April 2022 exclusive with Variety, where she discussed how hard she worked on the movie. “There were a lot of long days, but it was so worth it.”
According to the latest moves from Zaslav and Warner Bros. Discovery, though, perhaps they weren’t.
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