Warner Bros. announced Tuesday that “Batgirl,” a feature film adaptation of the DC Comics character, will not be released in theaters or on its HBO Max streaming platform. The movie was reportedly so unspeakably, irredeemably bad, that the studio decided to spike the $90 million project rather than risk damaging its brand by releasing it to the public.
“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. spokesperson said in a statement to CNN, which is owned by Warner Bros.-Discovery.
The studio also axed its film “Scoob! Holiday Haunt.”
The New York Post was the first to report that the movie, starring Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, would be “shelved.” The film also starred J.K. Simmons as Barbara’s father Commissioner Jim Gordon and had Michael Keaton reprise his role as Batman, while Brendan Fraser played the villain, Firefly.
Test screenings for “Batgirl,” which was in post-production, were reportedly so poorly received by moviegoers that Warner Bros. “decided to cut its losses and run for the sake of the brand’s future,” the Post reported.
“They think an unspeakable ‘Batgirl’ is going to be irredeemable,” an unnamed “Hollywood source” was quoted saying in the report.
Other reports contradict that claim. Variety reported that the decision to kill “Batgirl” was not related to the quality of the film, bur rather was a result of the studio’s decision to release DC features on a “blockbuster scale.” While “Batgirl” reportedly had a $90 million budget, the film was intended for home release on HBO Max instead of a global release in major movie theaters.
“Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance,” Warner Bros. said. “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.”
In a statement posted to Instagram, directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah said they were “saddened and shocked by the news” that their film was canceled.
“As directors, it is critical that our work be shown to audiences, and while the film was far from finished, we wish that fans all over the world would have had the opportunity to see and embrace the final film themselves. Maybe one day they will insha’Allah,” they wrote.
The statement continues, “Our amazing cast and crew did a tremendous job and worked so hard to bring Batgirl to life. We are forever grateful to have been part of that team. It was a dream to work with such fantastic actors like Michael Keaton, J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser, Jacob Scipio, Corey Johnson, Rebecca Front and especially the great Leslie Grace, who portrayed Batgirl with so much passion, dedication and humanity.”
“In any case, as huge fans of Batman since we were little kids, it was a privilege and an honor to have been a part of the DCEU, even if it was for a brief moment,” the directors conclude. “Batgirl For Life.”