‘Batgirl’ directors say they are ‘saddened’ after film was put on hold

The makers of the superhero film “Batgirl” said Wednesday they were “saddened and shocked” that Warner Bros. put their movie on hold instead of releasing it theatrically or distributing it on the HBO Max streaming service — a rare move from a major studio.

The film was supposed to debut this year.

“We still can’t believe it,” Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah said in a statement. post on Instagram.

“As directors it is essential that our work can be shown to the public, and although the film is far from finished, we wish that fans around the world had the opportunity to see and embrace them. -even the final film. Maybe one day they will insha’Allah.”

“Batgirl,” budgeted around $90 million, starred Leslie Grace (“In the Heights”) and featured supporting performances from Michael Keaton (reviving his role as Batman), JK Simmons and Brendan Fraser .

Grace addressed the situation in an Instagram post on Wednesday evening, write in part“I’m proud of the love, hard work and intention that all of our amazing actors and tireless crew put into this film over 7 months in Scotland.”

Arbi and Fallah previously co-directed the action show “Bad Boys for Life” and oversaw episodes of the Disney+ streaming series “Ms. Marvel.”

Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told The Associated Press in a statement that “the decision not to release Batgirl reflects the strategic shift in our direction with respect to the universe. DC and HBO Max”.

The spokesperson added that Grace is “an incredibly talented actress and this decision does not reflect her performance.” (WarnerMedia is the parent company of Warner Bros. Pictures and HBO Max.)

Hollywood studios almost never bury movies that don’t meet creative or financial expectations. In most cases, the movie in question is sold to a streaming service or quietly dropped in theaters without a marketing campaign.

“Batgirl” was sent into production before WarnerMedia merged with Discovery Inc., a company best known for a portfolio of cable channels such as Food Network and HGTV.

David Zaslav, the head of the combined media conglomerate, could announce broader changes during an earnings call on Thursday afternoon, including a merged version of HBO Max and Discovery+. Industry insiders are reportedly concerned about the layoffs and other cuts.

Zaslav’s vision for the company appears to be starkly different from that of former CEO Jason Kilar, who invested heavily in streaming and, at the height of the pandemic, instituted simultaneous streaming and theatrical premieres for movies like “Dunes” and “King Richard.”

Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi at the Cannes Film Festival on May 26, 2022.Dominique Charriau / WireImage

“Batgirl” was part of a slate of projects produced exclusively for HBO Max. Six other films made under those terms, including Anne Hathaway’s fantasy “The Witches” and Seth Rogen’s comedy “An American Pickle,” appear to have been pulled from the platform in recent days.

Warner Bros. also dropped plans to release the animated film “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt.” Tony Cervone, producer and screenwriter of the film, confirmed in an Instagram post that the project was “virtually complete and went great. I’m heartbroken.”

Films set in the DC Comics universe have been a critical and commercial mix. ‘Wonder Woman’ (2017) conquered the box office and received good reviews, while ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (2016) and the original version of ‘Suicide Squad’ (2016) received largely negative reactions.

Arbi and Fallah wrote in their Instagram post on Wednesday that it was “a privilege and an honor to have been part of the [DC film franchise], even if only for a brief moment. Batgirl for life.”

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