In a surprising twist of events, Warner Bros. will no longer be releasing Batgirl, the DC film which had finished shooting months ago and was expected to arrive on HBO Max this year.
Starring Leslie Grace as Batgirl, Michael Keaton as Batman, JK Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and featuring Brendan Fraser’s return to Hollywood as the villain, Firefly, the much-anticipated film was in test screenings as directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah reportedly worked through its post-production phase. So why did Warner Bros. suddenly decide to scrap the movie which was nearly completed and gaining traction among fans for its star-studded cast and crew?
According to sources obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the unusual move comes after a change in leadership at Warner Bros., with new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav “prioritising cost-cutting measures and refocusing Warners on creating theatrical films rather than projects for streaming.”
The publication went on to note how Batgirl was budgeted at around $80 million, while costs rose to nearly $90 million due to COVID-19 protocols. Though this is a huge sum, it’s significantly lower than other DC theatrical releases. Thus the film in question was claimed to not have the “spectacle” that audiences typically expect from DC fare.
The New York Post further mentioned how the test screenings were said to be so poorly received by moviegoers that the studio decided to “cut its losses and run,” for the sake of its future. “It’s a DC disaster,” the publication wrote, with a source stating: “They think an unspeakable Batgirl is going to be irredeemable.”
While Warner Bros. has also decided to axe the animated feature Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, which had a budget somewhere in the $40 million range, several DC fans have taken to Twitter and voiced their frustration with the studio. Some users equated the film’s status to the fact that DC and Sony Entertainment went ahead with Ezra Miller’s The Flash (set to be released in 2023) and Jared Leto’s Morbius (embarrassingly released twice across theatres) respectively, despite blatant evidence of problematic and predatory behaviour displayed by both the main leads. Meanwhile, others were quick to admit how the entire cast and crew of Batgirl were robbed and deserved better.
Here are 15 noteworthy internet reactions to the announcement, ultimately urging DC to #ReleaseBatgirl:
It seems like Ben Affleck might just be dusting off his Bat cape and donning the signature cowl once again in 2023’s Aquaman sequel.
On 28 July, sea god Jason Momoa uploaded photos of his recent bro-down with Affleck on Warner Bros.’ backlot. “REUNITED Bruce and Arthur,” the star captioned the post. “Love u and miss u Ben WB studio tours just explored the backlot alright. Busted on set all great things coming AQUAMAN 2 all my aloha j.”
Accompanying two images featuring Affleck and Momoa was a video in the Instagram carousel post, where the latter was seen accidentally running into some fans who were in the middle of a tour.
“Well, it’s not a f-ing secret anymore,” Momoa was heard saying and later apologising for cursing in front of the kids aboard the tour bus. “That’s what happens, Warner Bros., when you walk out of your set and there’s our fans. Hey guys, have a good time!”
“Well, we tried to keep it a secret,” Momoa added, before busting into a trailer that read “B.A.” where Affleck was seen sitting with a phone in his hands.
Momoa had previously teased that he’s “back on set” and “can’t tell you what I’m doing” as it’s “top secret” on his Instagram Story while promoting his brand, Mananalu Water. “All I can say is, thank you to one of my favourite production companies for having me and taking care of the environment, because I can’t say much more,” the actor admitted. “But good things are happening.”
On the other hand, Affleck’s on-and-off relationship with DC started with 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opposite Henry Cavill, where he received heavy backlash and admitted that he was not happy with the finished product. Affleck then went on to star in Suicide Squad and both the Joss Whedon and Zack Snyder versions of Justice League.
“I had a really nadir experience around Justice League for a lot of different reasons,” Affleck told Entertainment Weekly at the time. “Not blaming anybody, there’s a lot of things that happened. But really what it was is that I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like being there. I didn’t think it was interesting. And then some really shitty things, awful things happened. But, that’s when I was like, I’m not going to do that anymore.”
Affleck has also previously said that filming Justice League was a “very, very, very hard experience” that led to a relapse in drinking and his decision to give up starring in and directing his own version of The Batman.
While it’s unclear how big Affleck’s role will be in DC’s upcoming Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, he will be starring alongside returning actors Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson and Dolph Lundgren. The much-awaited sequel is scheduled to hit theatres on 17 March 2023.