On August 2, 2022 Warner Bros. Discovery announced that the nearly completed Batgirl would not be coming to HBOMax as intended.
“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max. Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance,” said a Spokesperson from Warner Bros. Pictures.
The shelving of the $90 million project came as a surprise to fans who’ve sat through more than 8 films featuring Batman over the last two decades - and that includes complete DC flops like the universally-panned Suicide Squad.
Leslie Grace at the The Suicide Squad Premiere at the Village Theater on August 2, 2021 in Westwood, CA
DC’s The Flash is still slated for release, despite the fact that its star, Ezra Miller, has been accused of assault and kidnapping a minor, among other crimes.
It initially begged the question: how bad could this movie be?
Filming took place in Scotland from November 2021 to March 2022. Rumors swirled that Covid interruptions ballooned the budget, however it only grew from $75 million to $90 million. Word on the street is that test audiences were underwhelmed and that’s a factor in Batgirl’s doom.
DC has continuously fallen behind rival comic studio Marvel in creating an interlocking universe of films. The DC Extended Universe contains about ten films in comparison to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s twenty-nine. And DC has never reached the same level of prestige or hype.
The cancelling of Batgirl seemed like a blow to the entire DCEU.
But it’s really a blow to HBOMax.
It’s now been revealed that HBOMax - one of the most popular streaming services for its name recognition, subscriber count, and solid collection of content - will be merging with Discovery+. Batgirl was part of HBOMax’s streaming-only initiative in collaboration with DC, that will be canceled due to the merger.
Batgirl was shelved alongside another nearly-completed film - Scoob! Holiday Haunt, a sequel to Scoob! (2020). The platform instantly released several HBOMax original films including Moonshot and An American Pickle.
Content will be swapped from one platform to the other before the eventual merger (or potential axing of one?) in the summer of 2023.
Will Batgirl fly?
Unless it gets leaked, it’s extremely unlikely Batgirl will be made available to the public. Variety claims that according to several of their sources, HBOMax “will almost certainly take a tax write-down on both films, seen internally as the most financially sound way to recoup the costs (at least, on an accountant’s ledger).” This means that legally, it can never be released.
This Batgirl fiasco is just another casualty of the streaming wars, where art, especially from truly original and marginalized filmmakers, is deprioritized in the voracious pursuit of money-money-money.