Warner Bros. just spent $90 million on a Batgirl movie and then cancelled it

HBO Max film was set to star Leslie Grace, Michael Keaton and Brendan Fraser

Michael Keaton Batman logo in The Flash / Leslie Grace as Batgirl
(Image credit: DC Films)

Warner Bros. has unexpectedly decided to cancel its Batgirl movie starring Leslie Grace with the project now in post-production and an estimated $90 million already spent. 

As first reported by TheWrap (opens in new tab), Batgirl was originally positioned as an HBO Max release under a previous regime at the studio, featuring Grace as Barbara Gordon, the return of Michael Keaton as Batman and Brendan Fraser serving as the film's villain, the pyromaniac Firefly. Former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar looked to make original live movies for the streaming platform for between $70 million to $80 million, however, now that Warner Bros. Discovery president and CEO David Zazlav is in charge, the strategy has changed.

Helmed by Bad Boys for Life and Ms Marvel. directing duo Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah (who awkwardly found out about the news at Arbi's wedding), speculation made its way across the web as to why Batgirl was scrapped. Was the quality just not good enough? That's not the case, according to Deadline (opens in new tab), as the film was only tested once and feedback "wasn't that bad" with WB also wanting to work with Grace in some capacity still. 

The decision was actually put down to how the company could make back most of its money with neither a theatrical nor streaming release seen as viable. Now several sources (via Variety (opens in new tab)) say that it will "almost certainly take a tax write-down" on both Batgirl and a sequel to the 2020 Scoob movie, which has also been cancelled. By doing this, WB will be unable to monetise either release. 

"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," a Warner Bros. Picture spokesperson told TheWrap (opens in new tab)

"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." 

T3 has reached out to Warner Bros. for comment. 

It's an unprecedented move in Hollywood for a project of this scale and one that has sent waves throughout the industry. After the massive fan campaign for Zack Snyder's Justice League, which did ultimately get the film finished and released, many will be wondering if Batgirl could follow suit. It's unlikely, as the company looks to write it off as a tax break. But who knows, we've seen crazier things happen. 

From a personal standpoint, I'm hugely disappointed this film won't see the light of day. Out of DC's current slate of releases – Black Adam, Shazam: Fury of the Gods, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, The Flash and Blue Beetle –  it was undoubtedly my most anticipated. Standalone releases like this, as opposed to the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, seemed a smart way to go for DC. Whatever the case, this is a huge loss for fans of Batgirl / Barbara Gordon and another blight on DC's muddled movie strategy. 

Batgirl was due to star Leslie Grace, J.k. Simmons, Jacob Scipio, Ivory Aquino, Michael Keaton and Brendan Fraser. 

The most recent high-profile release from DC was The Batman starring Robert Pattinson, which is now available to stream on HBO Max. 

Matthew Forde
Staff Writer

Matthew is the Staff Writer for T3, covering news and keeping up with everything games, entertainment, and all manner of tech. You can find his work across numerous sites across the web, including TechRadar, IGN, Tom's Guide, Fandom, NME, and more. In his spare time, Matthew is an avid cinema-goer, keen runner and average golfer (at best). You can follow him @MattForde64