Warner Bros. decided not to release Batgirl despite having plowed $90 million to get the film near completion.
Warner Bros. Pictures has stopped work on the feature-film adaptation of the DC Comics character despite the film and editing work being finished. Batgirl has been shelved and will not premiere in theaters or on its streaming service HBO Max, the company reported.
The production—starring Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl) and directed by Bad Boys for Life and Ms. Marvel filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah—was greenlit in 2021 as part of a company-wide effort at the film studio to create feature films specifically for streaming service HBO Max, according to Variety.
The film had a $75 million budget that grew to $90 million due to COVID-related overages and had wrapped up filming months ago—and was currently doing post-production work and test screenings.
Batgirl is the victim of regime change and a shift in corporate strategy, not because of the quality of the movie or the commitment of the filmmakers. Batgirl was budgeted to stream directly on HBO Max at home, not a movie premiere.
A new CEO took the reins at Warner Bros. in the spring, reversing the initial decision of films going straight to streaming services and returning to the traditional route of hitting theaters first. Batgirl found itself on the bad end of that decision, apparently neither big enough for a major theatrical release nor small enough to make economic sense in an increasingly cutthroat streaming landscape, writes Variety.
It would cost the company another $30 million to $50 million to build the film up to be theater-quality—plus a significant investment in marketing, which would nearly double the price already sunk into the project.
In March, Warner Bros. released The Batman, which generated $128.5 million in its box office debut, marking the best opening weekend of 2022. The film cost an estimated $200 million to make.