After Leslie Grace’s role as Batgirl in the DC Extended Universe was canceled by Warner Bros. Discovery, the internet went into a frenzy trying to explain this unprecedented move. The movie’s initial $75 million budget increased by $15 million as a result of the epidemic, putting it through a familiar ringer. Despite having a post-production expenditure of $90 million, making Batgirl a relatively high-budget film (though not quite as high-budget as DC), the studio shocked fans and the media on August 2 when they hazarded a prediction that the movie would fail. Variety reports that multiple sources claim that taxes are the most likely reason for Batgirl’s tragic and unheard-of demise.
While the infamous cape-wearing vigilante Batman has gone through countless iterations, Batgirl has rarely taken the lead. Therefore, it would be an understatement to suggest that the cancellation of her debut live-action film is sad.
Leslie Grace, who played Batman in In The Heights, was expected to return, while Michael Keaton would play Barbara Gordon, the vigilante who also happens to be the daughter of police commissioner Jim Gordon (JK Simmons).
It’s a little difficult to grasp that we won’t actually be seeing it next year as anticipated because fans have been teased with several updates and photographs of the ensemble in action, including ones of Grace in her (satisfyingly) comics-accurate Batsuit.
The fact that Batgirl had already finished filming, was in the post-production phase, and was slated to air on HBO Max in the US is astonishing. It’s not uncommon for previously announced projects to be postponed (DC’s live-action picture Wonder Twins was canceled earlier this year).
In other words, the film was almost finished and was gaining popularity. Why, therefore, did Warner Bros. Discovery decide to cancel it when they were so close to winning?
Of course, money is the answer—or so it would appear.
The decision, which also resulted in the cancellation of Scoob!, was emphasized by the corporation as being “not a reflection” on the performance of its “very gifted” lead star. Christmas Haunt.
A Warner Bros representative said in a statement that the decision to withhold the release of Batgirl “reflects our leadership’s strategy shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max” (via The Hollywood Reporter).
“Although Leslie Grace is a very great performer, this choice does not speak to how well she performed. We are so appreciative to Scoob and Batgirl’s directors! We want to work together once more in the near future with Holiday Haunt and their separate casts.”
Deadline claims that the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, rejected former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar’s plan, which placed a strong emphasis on generating HBO Max streaming subscriptions through original programming.
This includes the contentious choice to simultaneously put the studio’s full 2021 theatrical schedule on the streamer at a time when moviegoing was down due to the epidemic, including Dune, Godzilla Vs. Kong, King Richard, and The Matrix Resurrections.
Zaslav preferred to commit to first-run theatrical release of feature films before their release on the streaming service.
Although the movie came close to a $100 million budget after reshoots and COVID delays, Batgirl was not thought to be big enough or geared to compete with tentpole theatrical releases, unlike previous DC productions like The Flash and Aquaman 2.
The problem with spending the money to make Batgirl bigger for theaters is that it would apparently nearly double the movie’s budget, which is unthinkable for a firm that is allegedly just now focusing on “belt-tightening and the bottom line,” according to Variety.
Sadly, this indicates that the company has allegedly determined that canceling the film was the best way to recoup money, probably because it will be eligible for a tax write-off. If this is the case, it would be impossible for Batgirl to be sold to another distributor or to be released on HBO Max in the future.
Although it’s not the news we wanted or anticipated, we’ll keep our fingers crossed in case we get to view any of the footage in the future.