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Warner Bros. Discovery Bosses Talks Future Of DC Films And Rationale Behind Batgirl's Cancellation

Leslie Grace in Batgirl suit
(Image credit: DC)

Just two days ago, the DC Films franchise endured a major shakeup, as Batgirl, a movie that had already been shot, was scrapped from the lineup of upcoming DC movies, meaning it won’t be released in theaters or to HBO Max subscribers.This surprising news came months after the Wonder Twins movie was cancelled after three months of development. For those now wondering where things stand with DC Films, two of Warner Bros. Discovery bosses opened up on the company’s earnings call today. about the future of the franchise and provided more rationale for Batgirl’s cancellation 

Starting off, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav made it clear that the DC brand is still a priority for this recently-merged conglomerate, to the point that there’s a specific 10-year plan that’s being applied to future DC movies. In Zaslav’s words:

… As we look at the opportunities that we have, broadly, DC is is one of the top of the list for us. We look at Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, these are brands that are known everywhere in the world. And the ability to drive those all over the world with great story is a big opportunity for us. We have done a reset. We've restructured the business where we're going to focus where there will be a team with a 10-year plan focusing just on DC. It’s very similar to the structure that Alan Horn and and Bob Iger put together very effectively with Kevin Feige at Disney. We think that we could build a long term, much stronger, sustainable growth business out of DC. And as part of that, we're going to focus on quality.

The DC Extended Universe launched with Man of Steel in 2013, five years after the Marvel Cinematic Universe got rolling with Iron Man. However, the DCEU has never reached the MCU heights of success, but with David Zaslav leading the charge, he’s implementing this 10-year plan that pulling a page from the book the MCU has been using for a while now. And for those unaware, Alan Horn is now serving as a consultant for Warner Bros. following nearly a decade at Walt Disney Studios as chairman and later the chief creative officer. Zaslav continued:

We're not going to release any film before it's ready. We're not going to release a film to make a quarter… the focus is going to be, how do we make each of these films in general as good as possible? But DC is something that we think we could make better and we're focused on it now. We have some great DC films coming up: Black Adam, Shazam and Flash, and we're working on all of those. We're very excited about him. We've seen them, we think they're terrific and we think we can make them even better.

Black Adam will hit theaters this October, followed by Shazam! Fury of the Gods two months later. And despite the controversy surrounding The Flash actor Ezra Miller, the Scarlet Speedster’s solo movie is still on track to arrive next June. However, it isn’t all about strengthening the DCEU continuity, as evidenced by Joker 2 scoring a release date and The Batman 2 being greenlit earlier this year, not to mention Matt Reeves’ Caped Crusader-centric universe expanding with a Penguin series and other spinoff shows in development. The point

As for Batgirl, which starred In the Heights’ Leslie Grace in the title role and was directed by Bad Boys for Life’s Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, yesterday Warner Bros. Discovery issued a statement yesterday about it, saying that Batgirl’s cancellation “reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max.” Today, Gunnar Widenfels, WBD’s CFO, provided the following rationale about Batgirl being shelved, as well the scrapping of Scoob! Holiday Haunt and Wonder Twins:

Substantial investment into direct to HBO Max films, for which again, we did not find sufficient support. This means adjusting the way we invest going forward, and also in evaluating those projects already completed or in progress. Wonder Twins, Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt are examples of streaming films that do not fit this new strategic approach. These are difficult decisions, but we are committed to being disciplined about a framework that guides our content investment for maximum return.

All three of these movies had been slated to be exclusive to HBO Max, as was Blue Beetle before it changed to a theatrical release. However, under the new regime, Warner Bros. is committing to releasing theatrical movies, and rather than pour more money into Batgirl (which had a budget of $90 million) to make it feel more cinematic, the company decided to set it aside. It’s been reported that Warner Bros. Discovery plans to take write off Batgirl as a tax break.

Clearly some big changes are coming to DC Films, and CinemaBlend will continue sharing updates on what the franchise is delivering to audiences. If you’re wondering what non-DC movies there are to look forward to for the remainder of the year, head to our 2022 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.