The HBO Max Batgirl movie is reportedly no more.
Deadline reports the film has been shelved despite being nearly complete and costing upwards of $100 million. The reason: Warner Bros. Discovery’s plan to re-frame DC Entertainment as a major movie-making silo in its corporate structure. Like The Wonder Twins before it, the project is now viewed as too costly for a HBO Max film and, ironically, too niche for a theatrical release.
Also, at least one report suggested the movie did not test well.
The film was written by Birds of Prey Christina Hodson and directed by Ms. Marvel‘s Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. Leslie Grace was set to star as Barbara Gordon, a young Gotham City police officer who adopts a vigilante disguise. J.K. Simmons reprised his Justice League Jim Gordon role while Michael Keaton also returned as Batman — suggesting the film took place on an Earth with both DCEU and Batman ’89 elements. Brendan Fraser played the primary villain, Firefly, while Ivory Aquino was set as Barbara’s best friend, Alysia Yeoh. Rebecca Front, Corey Johnson, and Ethan Kai were also among the cast.
Considering the reports began with a New York Post item, there is still some doubt that Warner Bros. Discovery will actually let that much money go into the trash and that the film will finish post-production for a HBO Max debut. Others are insisting Keaton’s involvement alone will keep it viable. But, then again, people are also saying the same thing about the troubled Flash feature. Additionally, some note the company’s willingness to quickly scrap CNN+ after it spent $300 million to launch is an indication that some extreme cost-cutting is on the table and promoting these films may be viewed as throwing good money after bad.
We’ll add this: the report seems credible because it continues a narrative about Warner Bros. Discovery and its view of the DC films. They expect it to be a true rival to Marvel in terms of box office and cultural power. That has yet to materialize under three different creative regimes and it seems a complete housecleaning may occur as the unit is once again restructured. As always, the popular wisdom suggests WBD needs a Kevin Feige-like executive to spin four-color characters into gold. But beyond that, this mythical executive needs to believe in the characters and defend them in the face of every other part of the Warner organization.
One thing is clear though: current DC Films boss Walter Hamada‘s plan to produce two films a year for the Warner streamer is dead.
In the meantime, Warner Bros. Pictures still has two DC films ready to go in 2022 — Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods — with Aquaman and the Lost City, The Flash, and Blue Beetle all set for release next year. Unless, of course, WBD is willing to take a loss on the whole existing enterprise and shelve everything past the Aquaman sequel.