Batgirl, the $90 million dollar film adaption of the DC Comics character, has been axed: it will neither be shown theatrically nor on HBO Max, where it was originally slated for release. This decision comes during post-production, which means that there's probably a watchable cut of the movie—and fans and archivists want to see it.
In the subreddit r/lostmedia, a community dedicated to finding movies, TV episodes, advertisements, songs, recordings, YouTube videos, and other media that has been deleted off the internet, maybe aired only once on TV, or might only exist in physical media format, users are trying to find Batgirl, which they are calling "preemptively lost media." Reddit user u/YoungBeef03 said, “I find it highly likely some leak of it will happen eventually, especially given what happened with the Snyder Cut. Except that was done willingly, who know[s] how WB would take the demand for Batgirl’s release.”
The Snyder Cut refers to director Zack Snyder’s 2021 version of the 2017 superhero film Justice League, which he directed, but had to step down during post-production following the death of his daughter. The theatrical version ended up being a box office disappointment and after a years-long campaign by fans (and maybe some bots), Snyder’s version of the film was finally released last year.
People on the subreddit say they would like to finish the Batgirl movie themselves: “I would like to send an open invitation to Warner Bros. I have a Premier Pro account, just send me whatever work you have done, and I’ll finish it myself. I’ve got an open weekend,” YoungBeef03 ended their post.
There is similar sentiment on Twitter, where fans of DC Comics and Batgirl seem to be sure that they will see the film somehow. Twitter user @HiTopFilms tweeted, “If they really plan on not releasing Batgirl… Somebody is going to leak it, and I will anxiously anticipate that leak. I was very excited.”
Canceled films being leaked online is not unheard of. In 2014, a hacker group known as “Guardians of Peace” released confidential data from the film studio Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), which included then-unreleased Sony films, among other information. The films included Annie, Mr. Turner, Still Alice, To Write Love on Her Arms, and the controversial comedy The Interview, which was about North Korea and had originally been delayed, then canceled, then was finally officially released after the hack. Another big movie leak was from the Marvel Comics universe, when the unfinished version of 2009 superhero film X-Men Origins: Wolverine was shared online by a hacker a month before the film was released.
The cancellation of Batgirl was unexpected, considering its high budget; it is now one of the most expensive canceled film projects ever.
This decision comes at the hands of new CEO David Zaslav, who was appointed in April following the merge between Discovery and Warner Bros. Zaslav, who is notoriously known for being a hard cost-cutting leader, also killed streaming platform CNN+ a month after its launching, and after the company had spent $300 million on it.
Directed by Ms. Marvel directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Batgirl was part of former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar’s shift to creating streaming-first films over theatrical films. Now, under new leadership, the studio has pivoted back to focusing on theatrical features, leaving Batgirl behind in the process.
“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max. Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future,” a Warner Bros. Picture Spokesperson said.
Though the studio claims the film’s cancellation is not related to the quality of the film so much as due to strategy shift in the business, sources have reported that test screenings of the film have been received poorly, according to the New York Post and Collider.
We have yet to see what this all means for DC movies, with recent releases like Wonder Woman 1984 and Suicide Squad bringing in losses at the box office. “Good Lord, what a shitshow,” YoungBeef03 writes about the DC universe. We'll see if they'll ever #ReleasetheYoungBeef03Cut.