DC Co-Chairmen and CEOs Peter Safran and James Gunn were asked to postmortem the Batgirl axing situation yesterday at their slate unveiling for the comic book studio.
“I saw the movie,” said Safran, “There are a lot of incredibly talented people in front of and behind the camera in that film, but that was not releasable. It happens sometimes.”
He added: “I think [Warner Discovery CEO David] Zaslav and the team made a bold and courageous decision to cancel it, because it would have hurt DC and those people involved. I spoke to [Batgirl directors] Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah last week — we’d love to be in business with all of them.”
“Christina Hodson wrote it, and we’re already back in business with her,” said the DC producer referring to the scribe who’s part of Gunn’s writers room for DC Universe Chapter One “Gods and Monsters”.
The Leslie Grace-Michael Keaton-Brendan Fraser starring film, originally destined for HBO Max, cost around $70M. After one test screening, which we hear earned the same score as It, the Zaslav-run Warner Discovery pulled the plug on the film to take advantage of a “purchase accounting” maneuver in order to take care of cost-cutting measures. What was shocking about Warner’s pulling the plug was in regards to how far along production was; it’s not typical to cancel a film during post-production, not to mention all unfinished films are unreleasable. Batgirl didn’t have any VFX. Sources say the release of Batgirl would have potentially impacted the greater universe storyline that’s being mapped out with Flash, which also stars Keaton as Batman, and is expected to reboot the whole DC-verse. After the film was cancelled the footage the filmmakers shot went completely missing from their servers. The filmmakers were in Morocco for El Arbi’s wedding when they learned that Warners axed Batgirl.
“I think it was not an easy decision, but they made the right decision by shelving it,” emphasized Safran, while also noting “Batgirl is inevitably a character we’ll include in our story.”
Warner Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said at a Bank of America Media conference that the shelving of Batgirl was “blown out of proportion” by the press.
“Media likes to talk about media, I guess,” he said back in September. “We have healthy relationships with talent, and we are offering one of the best platforms for anyone in the creative space.”
Leslie Grace, who was to star as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, talked with Collider about her experiences filming Batgirl and the many action scenes she shot alongside her co-star Brendan Fraser, who would have portrayed the villain Firefly in the film.
“I felt so blessed to have him as my sparring partner,” Grace said of her scenes with Fraser. “We had so many amazing action scenes together where we were beating each other up, but hugging in between takes because he’s just so sweet.” She added, “I would’ve loved people to see those moments, but you know what? You have the experience, and you keep on rolling, and I feel so blessed, all in all, that I have those memories.”
El Arbi and Fallah have moved on: this morning as the DC slate news was breaking, Sony announced the duo were returning and going into pre-production on the fourth Bad Boys movies with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence after their previous collaboration grossed over $426M WW.
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