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Superhero film 'Batgirl' canceled

August 4, 2022

"Batgirl," a high-profile, nearly finished movie, has been shelved by Warner Bros and won't be released or streamed.

Picture of woman with dark hair and in a black dress smiling at the camera
'Batgirl for life': Leslie GraceImage: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/picture alliance

Warner Bros. has axed "Batgirl,'' a superhero film planned for HBO Max that cost $90 million (€88.5 million) to make. The nearly finished comics adventure film was shelved as the reorganized Hollywood studio revamps its approach to streaming and DC Comics films.

The film production and distribution company decided "Batgirl" didn't merit either a streaming debut or a theatrical release, and is instead writing off the film starring "In the Heights'' star Leslie Grace as Batgirl and co-starring Michael Keaton, who returned as Batman.

Filming of "Batgirl", man holds a woman's hips, she stands on a platform dressed in a batgirl costume
'Batgirl' was filmed in Glasgow, Scotland Image: Euan Cherry/Photoshot/picture alliance

"The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership's strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,'' a Warner Bros. spokesperson said in a statement, adding that Grace is "an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance.''

'Batgirl for 'life'

To all Batgirl fans, Grace wrote on Instagram, "thank you for the love and belief……Batgirl for life!"

The film's Belgian directing duo, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, tweeted that they were "saddened and shocked," after the news broke. The filmmakers learned of the studio's decision shortly before the story broke late Tuesday. An early cut of "Batgirl'' had recently undergone one test screening — and its scores weren't good.

According to Variety magazine, however, a tax incentive was behind the decision to kill the film. The weekly that reports on the entertainment industry quoted a report saying that the studio saw that "as the most financially sound way to recoup the costs…. It could justify that by chalking it up to a post-merger change of strategy. Doing so, however, would mean that Warner Bros. cannot monetize either movie — no HBO Max debut, no sale to another studio."

Under Warner Bros. Discovery chief executive David Zaslav, Warner Bros. is shifting its strategy on film releases. Under previous chief executive Jason Kilar and partly in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the studio implemented day-and-date releases in 2021, opening films simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. Other films, including "Batgirl," were produced only for HBO Max.

(db/afp, ap)