Was Batgirl A Bad Movie? After Rumors Swirl, Sources Talk The Movie’s One Test Screening

Batgirl concept art
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

In some seriously shocking news regarding one of the upcoming DC movies, Batgirl, it was revealed this week that the $90 million film, which had already been filmed, is not going to be released at all – not on HBO Max nor in theaters. When rumors were initially swirling about Batgirl’s cancellation ahead of Warner Bros confirming the bombshell, there was some talk about the live-action superhero movie not turning out well in test screenings. As we learn more about what went down behind the scenes, more information has come to light about how the movie played to its only audience. 

According to a couple reports, Batgirl only test screened to one audience, and the cut that was shown was a very early version without finished visual effects or a score. Per The Hollywood Reporter, this cut tested to a score in the low 60s, which is actually comparable to hit movies like 2017’s IT: Chapter One and Warner Bros’ upcoming holiday season DC offering Shazam! Fury of the Gods. In other words, the test screening itself did not deem Batgirl unreleasable. 

It was also clarified that while test screenings are helpful for filmmakers to understand where audiences are engaged throughout the runtime of films, they are not used to outright decide the quality of a film, or more importantly whether it will be released. The decision to kill off Batgirl is an unprecedented decision that is very uncommon, especially with movies to the scale of the DC project. 

Deadline also reported that the movie was tested once, along with claiming that the cancellation of Batgirl was a decision based on the recent changes in leadership at Warner Bros. Batgirl was greenlit under WarnerMedia’s previous CEO Jason Kilar, who wanted to make a $70 million live-action and animated films for the company’s booming streaming service, HBOMax. 

The Batgirl filmmakers were reportedly told the decision had to do with a “purchase accounting” maneuver available to the company due to its recent merger. This opportunity that expires for Warner Bros Discovery in mid-August gives the company the ability to not carry losses during a time when Warner Bros had $3 billion in debt. 

WarnerMedia merged with Discovery this past spring, which led to Discovery CEO David Zaslav taking over and in turn switching up the strategy for DC projects, including Batgirl. Following the cancellation, Warner Bros issued a statement and confirmed the decision “reflects our leadership’s strategic shift.” The statement also said that Batgirl’s lead Leslie Grace had nothing to do with the decision and they had hopes to work with her and its filmmakers, Bad Boys For Life and Ms. Marvel’s Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, in the near future. 

Upon hearing the news, Batgirl's directors hared they were “saddened and shocked” by the news, and while the movie had not finished the post-production phase, they still have hopes fans will get to see what they worked on one day. The movie would have also feature Michael Keaton’s Batman, J.K. Simmons’ James Gordon and Brendan Fraser as a new take on Firefly. It’s especially sad to hear Batgirl was testing up to par of 2017’s IT, which was a global hit and a critically acclaimed film. And remember, all this before the movie was given a chance to be fully edited and come all together. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.