“Batgirl,” the feature film adaptation of the DC Comics character, has been killed at Warner Bros., Variety has confirmed. It will not premiere on any platform at the studio — neither theatrically nor on HBO Max.
The production — starring Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl) and directed by “Bad Boys for Life” and “Ms. Marvel” filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah — was greenlit in 2021 as part of a company-wide effort at Warner Bros. to create feature films specifically for HBO Max. But the new corporate regime at Warner Bros. Discovery has pivoted the company’s priorities back to theatrical features, leaving “Batgirl” without a proper home.
Also on the chopping block, “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” a followup to the 2020 film “Scoob!,” has been shelved by the studio. Footage for the animated adaptation of the “Scooby-Doo” series was showcased in a sizzle reel for HBO Max back in December 2021. Sources indicate that the production had cost Warner Bros. $40 million.
Studio insiders insist the decision to axe “Batgirl” was not driven by the quality of the film or the commitment of the filmmakers, but by the desire for the studio’s slate of DC features to be at a blockbuster scale. “Batgirl” was budgeted to screen in homes on HBO Max, and not for a major global release in theaters. The initial $75 million production budget for the project, which finished principal photography earlier this year and was in post-production, reached $90 million, due in part to COVID-related delays and protocols.
The decision still comes as a shock, as studios almost never shelve productions outright, preferring to get at least some return on their investment. It also comes as Warner Bros. is still contending with what to do about “The Flash,” a DC adaptation created — and budgeted — specifically for theatrical release in 2023. The film has been utterly hamstrung by repeated allegations of abuse and misconduct by its star, Ezra Miller.
And it’s not like “Batgirl” was a small movie, either. Along with Grace, J.K. Simmons plays Barbara’s father, Commissioner Jim Gordon, and Michael Keaton reprises his role as Batman (as he also does in “The Flash”). Brendan Fraser plays the villain, Firefly, and Grace told Variety in April that she had preliminary discussions with El Arbi and Fallah about what a sequel “could be.”
“There’s crazy stunts, crazy drops,” Grace said of the film. “She’s a biker chick, so you’re going to see her do a bunch of badassery… There were a lot of long days, but it was so worth it.”
The New York Post first reported on Warner Bros. decision to not release “Batgirl.”