Even executives from other Hollywood studios are said to be stunned at the moment and have big question marks walking over their heads: As has now become known, Warner wants 'Batgirl' and a sequel to 'Scooby' never publish. The studio has now confirmed corresponding reports with a statement. Both films were actually produced for the streaming service HBO MAX and should appear there directly. Both films are actually almost finished and have even been shown in test screenings.
The fact that the "Bad Boys 3" directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah with "In The Heights" shooting star Leslie Grace in the title role and Michael Keaton as Batman, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and Brendan Fraser as the villain Firefly in Batgirl is causing a particularly massive stir. After all, the film was part of a new strategy. In the official statement, Warner now only justifies the decision by saying that it "reflects the change in our management's strategy". But what is behind it?
Most reporters agree that it's not because the films might just be bad. About "Batgirl" there were already reports of test screening rounds that turned out well despite the lack of effects. Warner insiders also told Variety that it has nothing to do with quality. Warner also stated that they were enthusiastic about all the people involved. The official statement also states that they hope to work with them again. In his own statement, "Scooby 2" maker Tony Cervone revealed that his film is "almost done and it's turned out beautifully." He was devastated.
And let's be honest: a lack of quality has never stopped a Hollywood studio from bringing a film to the cinemas.
Sources from the various industry magazines associated with Warner take up the official announcement about the change in strategy. Above all, "Batgirl" no longer fits into the strategy of the studio's new management to focus more on blockbuster events again. In recent years, Warner has tried to push the streaming service HBO Max, which in 2021 led to the measure, which caused a lot of discussions, to release all blockbusters such as "Dune" in parallel in the cinema and on HBO Max. But it also resulted in Warner's leadership at the time giving the green light to streaming-exclusive film productions. There should be titles with a smaller budget, where you can maybe experiment. "Batgirl" was approved with a budget of 70 to 80 million dollars, which is said to have increased to 90 million dollars due to Corona.
Recently, however, Warner was merged with Discovery, Inc. to form a new media company called Warner Bros. Discovery. The new leadership around the CEO and previous Discovery boss David Zaslav has other priorities. Zaslav prefers event spectacles and big blockbusters in the cinema.
Supposedly he sees the danger that "Batgirl" will damage the DC brand and the position of the comic adaptation as such a large cinema event. Because the film is deliberately smaller than the big cinema adventures. You didn't have $200 million available. Now, when someone sees "Batgirl," they might think that all DC movies are like this (read: smaller) - and say to themselves about the next big movie: "I'd rather wait for the streaming release because I don't have to do that in the cinema." see."
In "Batgirl" Michael Keaton also plays a supporting role as Batman, which has been causing headaches for those responsible for Warner for some time. Because Keaton is introduced in "The Flash" as the new DCEU Batman. However, this film has now been postponed due to various problems, especially with the leading actor Ezra Miller.
That's why a scene in which Keaton was actually to be seen was recently reshot for "Aquaman 2". Here Ben Affleck jumped in again as Batman. This prevents the problem of the audience wondering why a different Batman can suddenly be seen.
"Aquaman 2" is probably only a short scene, with "Batgirl" such a reshoot would be much more extensive. Keaton is only said to have a supporting role but will appear in several scenes. A reshoot of all these sequences would be logistically hardly possible - and would have cost a lot of money. And when it comes to money, we're probably their real reason...
The lack of spectacle from "Batgirl" and the question of how the film fits into the DCEU may have played a small role in the decision. But they cannot have been the driving force. After all, these arguments can hardly or not at all be related to the sequel to 'Scooby' transmitted. No, in the end, it's all about the dear money - but differently, than you think.
It's probably not about not putting any more money into these films because the production costs have almost completely already started. And the marketing and other publication costs could be reduced to such a small sum at the start of streaming that they actually don't play a role for such a company. No, it's about taxes or tax savings.
Industry magazine Variety reports that it has learned from several sources with insider knowledge at Warner that veteran businessman David Zaslav and his team have found a way of writing off the films entirely to collect powerful taxes surrounding the formation of the new Warner Bros. Discovery company to save up. At least in the books, you can get back large parts of the sums spent on the films.
A side aspect of this "tax trick" is that the films are never allowed to appear. Because as soon as just one cent is earned with it, the whole model no longer works. That is also the reason why the almost finished films are not simply offered for sale to other companies such as Netflix, for example, or why they are not simply put on their own streaming service without any advertising or stir.
The timing also makes it clear that this tax trick theory is probably the real reason. Because until mid-August, the now new company Warner Bros. Discovery has the opportunity to pay debts from the old company WarnerMedia off its books.
There has already been massive criticism of Warner in the past few hours. The fact that "Batgirl", a film by two Moroccan directors with a Latina actress in the lead role, was canceled casts a bad light on the studio - even if comments were quickly made to industry magazines that this was really just a stupid coincidence.
The timing was probably still miserable. Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah were in Morocco at a wedding - at El Arby's. There they are said to have received the call from those responsible for Warner, in which they were informed of the decision. This "wedding gift" caused additional criticism and ridicule on the Internet and, in the opinion of many, shows the emotional coldness of the management, who only cares about business figures. Here, too, coincidence is probably responsible for the fact that it just looks pretty bad: there was time pressure, and it was to be assumed that the decision would leak directly to the press. It would have been even worse not to inform the directors directly so that they would have heard the news from a third party at the wedding.
The question now is whether massive criticism and a possible outcry might persuade Warner to rethink. Some commentators think this is possible. But it is difficult to assess. Above all, of course, the question plays a role as to what extent this would be possible from a tax perspective once the planned depreciation and changes to the books have been carried out. That's why we don't want to and can't make any predictions about how big the chance is that "Batgirl" and/or "Scooby 2!" will still appear after all the hustle and bustle.