On Thursday, during the Q2 earnings call, Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav announced that the studio was shelving the release of “Batgirl” and “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” two movies that are nearly completed and ready for distribution. “We’re not going to launch a movie until it’s ready.” He also said that they would not release a movie that they “don’t believe in” just to make the quarter profits.
Warner Bros. is particularly known for their production of movies based on Marvel comics, and Zaslav named Wonder Woman, Superman and Batgirl as superheroes that are central to their content. “These are brands that are known everywhere in the world,” he said of the DC characters. “And as part of that, we’re going to focus on quality. DC is something that we think we could make better and we’re focused on it now.” The statement seemed to imply that “Batgirl” was pulled from release because its quality does not come up to the standards that Warner Bros. deems to be acceptable.
Zaslav’s unusual move to cancel the release of a $90 million property stunned the movie industry, but he made a point of saying that the brands need to be protected. He name-checked “Black Adam,” “Shazam! 2” and “The Flash” as DC features that he’s “very excited about”.
Variety, the movie industry’s lead publication, reported that the main reason for the decision was the shift in company strategy away from creating feature films exclusive to HBO Max and Discovery+. This seemed to be corroborated by Zaslav who said during the Q&A on that earning call, “This idea of expensive films going direct to streaming — we can’t find an economic case for it, we can’t find an economic value to it, so we’re making a strategic shift.”
The popular television entertainment show, Inside Edition, suggested the real reason for the cancellation was “Batgirl’s” abysmal reception in previews.
On Wednesday, “Batgirl” directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (“Bad Boys for Life,” “Ms. Marvel”) released a statement that they were “saddened and shocked by the news,” and “Batgirl” star Leslie Grace said she was “proud of the love, hard work and intention all of our incredible cast and tireless crew put into this film.”