Holy millions down the drain, Batman!
The DC Comics film Batgirl will be completely “shelved” by Warner Bros, a top Hollywood source told New York Post.
That means it won’t hit theatres or the US streaming service HBO Max. Fans will not see it.
The reportedly $100 million movie (the source said the budget was actually more than $140 million), which was doing test screenings for audiences in anticipation of a late 2022 debut, would rank among the most expensive cinematic cast-offs ever.
Those tests were said to be so poorly received by moviegoers that the studio decided to cut its losses and run, for the sake of the brand’s future. It’s a DC disaster.
“They think an unspeakable Batgirl is going to be irredeemable,” the source said.
The Post has reached out to Warner Bros. for comment.
It’s been a months-long walk of shame for the movie. Batgirl, directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for Life), received not a single mention at DC’s Comic-Con panel in San Diego in July — an unusual move that raised industry eyebrows. The much-publicised event, after all, is designed to boost exposure for forthcoming projects just like this one.
Marvel’s Comic-Con presentation, on the flip side, announced more than a dozen films in the so-called Phases 5 and 6 of the MCU, to be released through fall 2025, with even more surely in the hopper.
Batgirl, which stars Leslie Grace (In the Heights) in the title role, alongside J.K. Simmons, Michael Keaton and Brendan Fraser, was originally planned for a release on HBO Max. The Puck newsletter reported in April that WB’s then-chair, Toby Emmerich, was considering a theatrical run for the film too.
But Emmerich stepped down in June to form his own production company — not long after Warner Bros. merged with Discovery and David Zaslav became the CEO of the new entity. He replaced Emmerich with MGM’s Michael De Luca (who likely had to deliver the “Bat” news) and Pam Abdy.
While the film’s co-directors have done some scattered interviews about casting, the studio has been mum on plans for Batgirl ever since.
Shelving a multimillion-dollar effort would not be unusual for Zaslav, a ruthless cost-cutter. Remember, he’s the same guy who gave the $400 million streaming service CNN+ the axe just days after its splashy launch because it didn’t snare enough subscribers.
The budget-conscious CEO, according to Variety, has split WB into multiple segments, including a reorganised “DC-based film production” group.
With that in mind, WB is said to be searching for a head honcho to run the flailing DC Extended Universe and whip it into coherent shape, like Kevin Feige did with the far more successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is owned by Disney. The current president of DC film production is Walter Hamada. Warner Bros. Discovery will report their Q2 earnings and announce future plans on Thursday.
DC urgently needs all the help it can get.
Unlike the behemoth that is Marvel Studios, whose movies occasionally get bad reviews but reliably print money, DC is a disorganised, confusing, not-very-profitable mess. Aquaman and Wonder Woman 1984 got mixed reviews from critics; Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squad were admired flops.
The Batman performed OK at the box office for Warner Bros., netting $1.1 billion worldwide with an R rating, and got good notices. However, the only DC Extended Universe film that has managed to beat the $1.45 billion box office gross of The Dark Knight, which came out 14 long years ago (Joker with Joaquin Phoenix was not part of the DCEU), was Aquaman.
Meanwhile, Marvel’s pandemic-era Spider-Man: No Way Home has grossed $2.75 billion worldwide and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has managed a solid $1.4 billion.
Lately, DC’s nasty star drama has eclipsed the buzz — such as it is — surrounding its movies.
Ezra Miller, who plays the Flash, has caused a string of embarrassing controversies this year. In the spring, the actor was twice arrested in Hawaii — first for disorderly conduct and harassment, then for second-degree assault. Then in June, the Standing Rock Sioux tribal court issued an order of protection against the 29-year-old for allegedly using “violence, intimidation, threat of violence, fear, paranoia, delusions and drugs” to groom an 18-year-old whom the actor has known since she was 12. (Miller has not publicly commented on the latest allegation; a police investigation into the Hawaii incidents are reportedly ongoing.)
Ben Affleck, meanwhile, consistently claims he’s done with playing the Caped Crusader — even going so far as to allow Robert Pattinson to take over the role in this year’s The Batman — but keeps coming back like a bad ex-boyfriend. It was reported this week by Screen Rant that the actor will appear yet again as Bruce Wayne in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Perplexing.
And Gal Gadot is said to be starring in Wonder Woman 3, but the actress and director Patty Jenkins have said nothing — including a title or release date — beyond that they’re throwing around script ideas. DC, which squanders legendary properties with abandon, appears to have no grand plan whatsoever.
Soon, however, Wonder Woman won’t be the one holding the golden lasso anymore. Instead, power will be wielded by an all-controlling DC film production head who will attempt to turn things around. Before they arrive, killing Batgirl is Step 1.
“This is the end of DC as a hobby,” the source said.
This story originally appeared on Page Six and is republished here with permission