‘Scoob!: Holiday Haunt’ and ‘Batgirl’ Warner Bros. Scrapped Project amid Cost-cutting Push
In an unexpected turn of events, Warner Bros. will no longer release Batgirl, the DC picture that had already wrapped production and was set to premiere on HBO Max this year.
The unexpected move follows a shift in leadership at Warners, with newly installed Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav favoring cost-cutting measures and refocusing Warners on producing theatrical pictures rather than projects for streaming, as former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar had done.
The budget for Batgirl was roughly $80 million, however, expenditures rose to nearly $90 million due to COVID-19 procedures.
It’s a sizable figure, but it’s substantially smaller than DC theatrical films, so the film isn’t expected to be as spectacular as moviegoers have grown to anticipate from DC entertainment.
(The Batman, which was released in March, cost $185 million before marketing costs.) Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, an animated picture with a $40 million budget, has also been shelved by Warners.
Batgirl is a celebrity. Leslie Grace stars as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, the first Latina to assume the role, and is directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah of Bad Boys for Life.
Michael Keaton returns as Batman, J.K. Simmons plays Barbara’s father, Commissioner James Gordon, and Brendan Fraser plays the villain Firefly. The New York Post was the first to report that Batgirl would be canceled.
“The decision not to distribute Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift about the DC universe and HBO Max,” a Warner Bros. representative stated in a statement. “Leslie Grace is a tremendously gifted actress, and this decision has nothing to do with her performance.”
We are tremendously thankful to the directors and casts of Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt, and we hope to work with everyone again in the near future.”
According to business insiders, big-budget films developed solely for streaming no longer make financial sense under the company’s new strategy. Zaslav appointed MGM’s Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy to oversee Warners in June, succeeding Toby Emmerich.
Following the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery in April, Warner Bros. Discovery executives sought to save $3 billion in costs.
The conglomerate has made significant cuts along the road, including the streaming service CNN+, which cost $300 million before being axed a month after launch, and J.J. Abrams’ costly HBO original Demimonde, which targeted a $200 million-plus budget.
Meanwhile, HBO Max has reduced its original programming focus area, canceling The Gordita Chronicles after a single season as part of a strategic move away from live-action kids and family programming.
TNT and TBS, both owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, have had original programming slashed in recent months.
Warner Bros. smashed the theatrical window under Kilar, sending its 2021 slate day-and-date to HBO Max in a one-year experiment. Now, Zaslav looks to be doing a complete 180-degree turn by emphasizing the value of theatrical over streaming in terms of original films.
Batgirl has had a difficult journey up to this moment. Joss Whedon agreed to script and direct the film in 2017 but backed out a year later. The directors of Batgirl, Adil & Bilall, joined the project in 2021 after revamping the Bad Boys franchise.
Grace released the first look photo of herself in costume in January of this year, along with a passage from the comic book Batgirl: Year One: “I play off their expectations.”
That will be their downfall. It’s not mine. Allow them to all underestimate me… Let me kick their buttocks when their defense is down and their pride is rising.”
Warner Bros. Cancels ‘Batgirl’ Film, It Will Not Be Released on Any Platform
The feature film adaptation of the DC Comics character “Batgirl” has been canceled, Variety has confirmed. It will not premiere on any studio platform, neither in theaters nor on HBO Max.
The production, starring Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl) and directed by “Bad Boys for Life” and “Ms. Marvel” directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, was given the green light in 2021 as part of a Warner Bros.-wide initiative to create original feature films for HBO Max.
However, the new corporate leadership at Warner Bros. Discovery has shifted the company’s focus back to theatrical movies, leaving “Batgirl” without a home.
The studio has also scrapped “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” a sequel to the upcoming feature “Scoob!” In December of 2021, HBO Max debuted a sizzle reel featuring footage from the animated adaption of the “Scooby-Doo” series. According to several sources, the project cost Warner Bros. $40 million.
Studio insiders assert that the decision to cancel “Batgirl” had nothing to do with the film’s quality or the filmmakers’ dedication, but rather with the studio’s desire to produce blockbuster-sized DC films.
“Batgirl” was financed for home viewing on HBO Max and not for global theatrical distribution.
Due in part to COVID-related delays and restrictions, the initial $75 million production budget for the picture, which completed principal photography earlier this year and was in post-production, increased to $90 million.
The decision nevertheless comes as a surprise, given studios usually never shelve productions without a return on their investment. It also comes at a time when Warner Bros. is still deciding what to do with “The Flash,” a DC adaptation designed and financed for theatrical release in 2023.
The project has been severely hampered by Ezra Miller’s frequent charges of abuse and wrongdoing.
And it’s not as if “Batgirl” was a minor film. In addition to Grace, J.K. Simmons portrays Commissioner Jim Gordon, Barbara’s father, while Michael Keaton reprises his role as Batman.
Grace told Variety in April that she had preliminary discussions with El Arbi and Fallah about what a sequel “might be.” Firefly is portrayed by Brendan Fraser.
Grace remarked of the film, “There are insane feats and drops.” “She’s a biker chick, so you can expect her to display a lot of badassery… There were many long days, but they were well worth it.” The New York Post was the first to disclose that Warner Bros. will not be releasing “Batgirl.”