Warner Bros has axed the feature film adaptation of DC Comics character Batgirl. It will not premiere on any platform at the studio, neither theatrically nor on HBO Max.
The production, which stars Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl), was greenlit in 2021 as part of a company-wide effort at Warner Bros. to create feature films intended for HBO Max. However, the new corporate regime at Warner Bros. Discovery has shifted the company’s priorities back to theatrical features, leaving Batgirl without a proper home.
The film, which was entirely filmed in Glasgow, also features some Hollywood big names. JK Simmons plays Barbara’s father, Commissioner Jim Gordon, and Michael Keaton reprises his role as Batman (as he does in The Flash). Brendan Fraser plays the villain, Firefly.
Studio insiders say the decision to axe Batgirl was not motivated by the film’s quality or the filmmakers’ commitment but by the desire for the studio’s slate of DC movies to be blockbusters. Batgirl was budgeted for HBO Max, not for a major global release in theatres. A $75 million production budget for the project that completed principal photography earlier this year and is now in post-production grew to $90 million due to COVID-related delays.
The New York Post, which broke the story on Tuesday, quoted an unnamed source who said the budget had actually exceeded $100m and that the film had performed so poorly during early test screenings that Warner Bros decided to cut its losses.
The move to shelve the project is surprising, as studios rarely abandon productions outright, hoping for at least some return on investment. Furthermore, Warner Bros. is still debating what to do with “The Flash,” a DC adaptation planned for release in 2023. The film has been hampered due to repeated allegations of abuse and misconduct by its star, Ezra Miller.