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May be Batgirl he was always cursed. Joss Whedon left the film in 2018, a year after taking the helm, saying it “really didn’t have a story.” Soon after, birds of prey writer Christina Hodson signed on to write a script. Then finally, in 2021, Bad boys for life filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah took over the direction and the film eventually went into production In the Heights Star Leslie Grace plays Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl. Then, this week, Warner Bros. he canned it.
Make no mistake, this was a multi-million dollar movie, already fully shot and in post-production, that the studio won’t even send straight to streaming. It was already intended as an HBO Max movie, not a theatrical release. Now, instead of debuting in either format, or in a hybrid release like the studio did with all of its films last year,Batgirl it just… will never see the light of day. By New York Post, one of the first outlets to report the film’s demise on Tuesday, audiences at test screenings didn’t take to the film and it was “irredeemable.” In an Instagram post, El Arbi and Fallah said they were “saddened and shocked by the news.” The duo added that it was critical for them that the public see their work and “maybe one day they will insha’Allah.”
Soon after the news broke, people found out Batgirl it was likely a casualty of the $43 billion Warner Bros.-Discovery merger, which closed in April. And he might not be the only one. After a year dedicated to beefing up HBO Max’s content and turning it into one of the best, most Emmy-nominated streaming services in the process, the newly formed outfit seems determined to put a damper on it. CEO David Zaslav is known as a cost-cutter and a news-maker BatgirlThe commission’s disappearance spread, so did word that burying the film would allow the studio a tax break to recoup some of its production costs. He also said the company wanted to focus on theatrical releases going forward, not HBO Max exclusives. As the week progressed, eagle-eyed fans noticed that other Max Originals, such as Moonshot i The Witches disappeared from the platform.
On Thursday, during a quarterly earnings call with investors, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that in the summer of 2023, it would merge HBO Max and Discovery+ into a single streaming service. Zaslav also talked about wanting to emphasize quality over quantity when it comes to programming, with a heavy emphasis on theatrical releases.
A new theatrical approach might excite directors like Denis Villeneuve, but there’s no denying the fact that HBO Max has a vast and impressive catalog of offerings big and small. Simply put, it has established itself as the breeding house for Crap You Love. If there is something that is ironic, if not puzzling, about the shelf of Batgirlit’s that Warner Bros., the studio that pumped 70 million month dollars in Justice League to release Snyder’s cut, he somehow decided that this was a movie not worth releasing. Zaslav said in his comments that the company is focusing on improving its DC movies, but so far, not all of them have been hits. Having a more cohesive slate of DC movies is a worthy goal, but it doesn’t seem wise to download something to save money when it could generate fan goodwill. Everyone would have loved Batgirl? Who knows, but HBO Max is filled with a lot of things that some people downright hate, but also have very loyal and ardent viewers. Unlike Netflix, which apparently prides itself on what my colleague Jason Parham rightly calls Just OK TV, Max excels at making big changes to things that at least don’t look like they were made by an algorithm. Sometimes it is a Sex and the city reboot, sometimes it is Succession; sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it is dune.
These comments also seem rich alongside the announcement of the merger of HBO Max and Discovery + into a single streaming service. While HBO Max has prestige TV and Crap You Love, Discovery+ practically invented the latter. The company almost admitted it in its quarterly presentation when it said that HBO Max is “appointment” viewing and Discovery + is “convenience” viewing. If the company really wants to focus on making nothing but hits, does that mean it will cut some of its home improvement programs (which I love, mind you)? Probably not, because the return on investment is higher. But HBO Max racked up some serious subscriber numbers thanks to putting real money behind smaller shows like Hacks and Max Originals now the institution that brought you Shark Week seems to be transforming it into something else. It seems like a move out of the Kabletown playbook, until the new interest FBOY Island.
It’s kind of a shame. After a somewhat underwhelming showing at Comic-Con last month, the Batgirl the news feels like the most free promotion a DC movie has gotten in a long time. Unfortunately, it was the kind of bad buzz, the kind of buzz that makes it seem like the new Warner Bros. Discovery won’t care so much about the movies and shows it makes, just its bottom line. Yes, all studios want to make a profit, but ditching content for tax benefits shows a serious misunderstanding of the company’s audience. Warner has released a lot of crap that lost money—every studio has—but they still released it. And some people are still attached to this shit. Barbara Gordon deserves the same shot as the Joker. Batgirl for life. Or not