The studio behind The Batman has reportedly shelved two films after a leadership change in order to focus on theatrical releases instead of films geared for a streaming premiere.
The film industry has undoubtedly struggled after the COVID-19 pandemic and while it seems that people are flooding back to the cinemas (Top Gun: Maverick is still continuing its stellar journey in cinemas), Warner Bros – or Warner Bros Discovery as it’s now known – is taking measures to manage costs.
The New York Post first reported that the studio has shelved both Batgirl and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt and neither will be seen by audiences. The news has now been confirmed by the studio. Both were originally supposed to be streaming on HBO Max and Batgirl was considered for a theatrical release as well.
It’s an unprecedented move in the industry as both films were nearly finished. Leslie Grace of In The Heights fame took on the role of Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl and when the first image of her in the costume was released, social media exploded with people praising the look and sharing their excitement for the film.
“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” said a Warner Bros. spokesperson in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.”
Batgirl reportedly had a budget of $80 million which ended up ballooning to $90m, thanks to the pandemic complicating filming. Michael Keaton was also supposed to return as Batman in both Batgirl and The Flash.
Speaking of The Flash, WB has remained tight-lipped about whether we will ever see the film. It still remains on their schedule for a June 2023 release, but Ezra Miller’s legal troubles as well as these cancellations might imply that it will either be quietly dumped on HBO Max. It’s hard to imagine a theatrical release for such a controversial film, never mind doing a press tour.
Ben Affleck is also due to appear in The Flash and Aquaman himself Jason Momoa posted a photo of himself and Affleck on Instagram confirming that Affleck would reprise his role as Batman in the Aquaman sequel. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom had already wrapped filming so these are reshoots to add Affleck into film. It makes us wonder whether this is an implication that The Flash is indeed going to disappear from the release schedule and Affleck is fulfilling a contractual obligation by appearing in Aquaman 2.
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Scoob!, which had a budget of $40m, is also a surprise cancellation. It was always planned to be a streaming release, but it seems that newly appointed CEO David Zaslav is strictly focusing on films to be distributed in cinemas primarily.
Shelving Scoob! and Batgirl is yet another ruthless move from Zaslav who also shut down CNN+ after only a month. It’s hard to predict what this all will mean for other Warner Bros. films and the DC Extended Universe in general.
Warner Bros. is gearing up to release Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods later this year.