Why did Warner Bros delete it? batgirl and Scoob! Chasing holiday?
Warner Bros’ cancellation of two HBO Max streaming movies came as a shock to the city. There are several discussions here, but the move boils down to an emphatic rejection of former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar’s strategy of making original $70 million live-action and animated films directly for streaming site HBO Max.
The creators of the live action batgirl and the animated one Scoob! heard today that those movies were stopped in their tracks. The timing was particularly awkward for batgirl co-directors Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah. Both are in Morocco for El Arbi’s wedding – a wedding present – and they expected to return to the cutting shop and continue working on the film with Leslie Grace, JK Simmons, Brendan Fraser and Michael Keaton.
There were initial cries that the demolition of batgirl wore bad optics because the title role is played by a Latina actress. But there were reasons for the move. In both cases, the filmmakers were told it amounted to a “purchase accounting” maneuver available to Warner Discovery, as the company has changed hands and also changed its strategy from the previous regime. This opportunity expires in mid-August, sources said, and it will allow Warner Bros Discovery not to carry the losses on its books as the studio attempts to deleverage $3 billion in debt across its divisions.
There has been a lot of speculation about why batgirl was canceled because it was a bad movie. Sources said the film was tested once, and the result wasn’t too bad, as the cut had temporary visual effects that dampen the audience’s enthusiasm in the scores. The studio is already making several deals with the directors and Miss Bala star Grace, because this reflected not so much their talent as the radical shift in strategy. It was a tough decision for everyone and highly unusual to simply scrap a film costing between $60 million and $70 million made by the popular directors who headed the film. black and the Disney+ series Mrs. Marvel under Kevin Feige as well as the pre-pandemic $426M-plus grossing hit Bad boys for life .
Much of the decision came down to this: Warner Bros Discovery boss David Zaslav rejected Kilar’s strategy of relying heavily on building streaming subscriptions for HBO Max. That was interrupted by his Project Popcorn initiative that set the entire theatrical slate of 2021 — including Dune, Godzilla vs Kong, King Richard, Matrix 4 – day and date in theaters and on HBO Max when theater attendance was scarce during the pandemic. Even after being shown the door, Kilar continued to call the strategy a win. Many disagreed, especially after Top Gun: Maverick waited and grossed $1.3 billion. It’s a very different world from when Kilar made the switch. Wall Street is no longer as impressed with subscriber numbers as with earnings, as evidenced by the precipitous decline in Netflix’s stock value.
Companies have moved on to philosophies espoused by Sony’s Tom Rothman and Universal’s Donna Langley, namely that films gain cultural relevance when they first debut in theaters with significant theatrical releases. When they appear on streaming sites about 45 days later, they are valued for having cultural relevance. That will be the strategy Apple is adopting next year with the Martin Scorsese-directed Leonardo DiCaprio-Robert De Niro drama. Killers of the Flower Moonwhich closed in 2022 and, as Deadline revealed, will likely debut in Cannes in 2023 before a full theatrical release via Paramount.
Back to batgirl and Scoob! batgirl is a gritty entry – nowhere near the budgets of DC theaters The flash and Aquaman 2 – and wasn’t designed to compete with tent pole theatrical releases, and it wasn’t Scoob! In addition, there were character introductions in that movie that the studio wanted to save for those DC theatrical titles. Rather than spend huge sums to pump up each film’s budgets to compete in the cinema market, then spend $80 million on global P&A, the studio felt that scrapping both films would be a better choice. was, in combination with the purchase calculation maneuver.
Sources don’t expect other movies to be killed this way, as the accounting opportunity expires in the middle of this month. But as all of Warner Bros Discovery braces for Thursday’s quarterly report and the layoffs that are sure to come, no one with a project made just for HBO Max or executives there can have confidence right now.
Warner Bros Discovery just released this statement: “The decision not to release” batgirl reflects the strategic shift of our leadership towards the DC universe and HBO Max. Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her achievements. We are the filmmakers of batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective cast and we hope to work with everyone again in the near future.”