Warner Bros. Discovery did both Batgirl and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt wrong in the shelving of both titles from theatrical or HBO Max release.
It’s not just the fact that Batgirl featured Leslie Grace in a leading role but that the film already completed principal photography. You have a similar issue with Scoob! Holiday Haunt. The reports out there suggest that it’s practically finished already. But since Warner Bros. owns the film rights for Scooby-Doo, it’s as good as being dead in the water. Knowing all of this, if I’m a filmmaker or talent thinking about signing on for a Warner Bros. movie, I’m going to think twice. This isn’t a case of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four movie. However, everyone is going to want to see this film but for different reasons. I’ll say it right now: if Batgirl ever leaks online, I’ll be more than happy to review it.
Here’s what we know about Batgirl: In addition to Leslie Grace, the film was set to star J. K. Simmons, Jacob Scipio, Brendan Fraser, and Michael Keaton. Keaton reprising his role of Batman! But alas, it isn’t a theatrical release but a film for HBO Max. What makes this even more disappointing is we would have seen Ivory Aquino portraying transgender bartender Alysia Yeoh. Outside of Nicole Maines in Supergirl, there aren’t many transgender characters the DCEU or the MCU. Hell, transgender representation largely sucks in studio films as it is. It’s never good when we don’t see ourselves on screen but alas, that’s another piece altogether.
While I was attending a press screening on Tuesday night, Variety was digging into how this could happen. Here’s the kicker:
Releasing the movie on HBO Max would seem to be the most obvious solution. Instead, the company has shelved Batgirl — along with the Scoob! sequel — and several sources say it 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). It could justify that by chalking it up to a post-merger change of strategy.
Honestly, I couldn’t be more furious with what’s happening. This came well after we learned that they shelved Ava DuVernay’s New Gods adaptation. I don’t know how far along the project was in pre-production but I was excited for her adaptation of a Jack Kirby title. Don’t forget Wonder Twins! That Batgirl is also cancelled–with a Latina actress in a leading role–shows that Warner Bros. and DC need to get their house in order. Forget restoring a SnyderVerse because that ship has sailed. Warner Bros. and DC now need to focus on the properties that are still coming out. At the moment, Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods are on the docket. They could certainly take a loss on The Flash movie because many of us do not want to support Ezra Miller with all of their legal issues.
A lot of DC’s problems date back to 2007 and 2012. Two things happened in 2012: Marvel’s The Avengers and the release of The Dark Knight Rises. With the final Christopher Nolan Dark Knight movie in theaters, they needed a new plan. Harry Potter only had a limited future on the big screen. Knowing what we know about J.K. Rowling, this is a franchise that needs to end. But anyway, DC needed a plan especially since George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal never saw the big screen. Making a Justice League film at the time wasn’t so much a problem when they announced it as far back as 2007. With the death of Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight became a box office phenomenon in 2008. This came two years after Superman Returns didn’t perform well for the studio.
The Superman Returns performance meant Brandon Routh was unlikely to ever wear the suit again. Thankfully, he did during Crisis of Infinite Earths. Moreover, Nolan’s Batman movies were their own thing. How would a Justice League film work? Would they hire new actors altogether or work with Routh and Bale? The fact that Warner Bros. wasn’t happy with the film’s box office led to a 2009 sequel getting cancelled. They would later reboot the Superman franchise in 2013 with Man of Steel as DC decided to copy Marvel, for better or worse, with the DCEU. It just proves to show that they just did not have a plan together.
Where do things stand now? WBD CEO/President David Zaslav wants DC to have their own Kevin Feige. Will this come in the form of Geoff Johns or Walter Hamada? In any event, they will have to put in the work to re-earn trust from audiences. After this year, it’s hard to have any excitement about the future DC slate of films if they might not actually happen because of a tax write-off. What a bummer.
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