'Batgirl' star Leslie Grace posts tribute to fans after Warner Bros. axes $90 million film

Jake Coyle
The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Warner Bros. has axed the $90 million “Batgirl” film planned for HBO Max.

Leslie Grace, who was set to star in the film in the title role, shared her gratitude to her fans on Instagram Wednesday, following the news.

"I am proud of the love, hard work and intention all of our incredible cast and tireless crew put into this film over 7 months in Scotland," she wrote. "I feel blessed to have worked among absolute greats and forged relationships for a lifetime in the process!"

She added: "To every Batgirl fan - THANK YOU for the love and belief, allowing me to take on the cape and become, as Babs said best, 'my own damn hero!' "

The film's directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah released a joint statement on Instagram, writing that they are "saddened and shocked by the news."

"We still can't believe it," Arbi and Fallah wrote. "As directors, it is critical that our work be shown to audiences, and while the film was far from finished, we wish that fans all over the world would have had the opportunity to see and embrace the final film themselves. Maybe one day they will insha'Allah."

The directors went on to thank the cast and "In the Heights" star Grace, who starred as Batgirl "with so much passion, dedication and humanity."

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The decision to axe the film, confirmed to the Associated Press by a person connected with the film who was not authorized to speak publicly about it, was highly unusual for such a high-priced and high-profile movie. But the studio ultimately decided “Batgirl” didn’t merit either a streaming debut or a theatrical release, and has instead opted to entirely write off the film starring Grace and co-starring Michael Keaton (returning as Batman), J.K. Simmons and Brendan Fraser.

Under new Warner Bros. Discovery chief executive David Zaslav, Warner Bros. is shifting its strategy on film releases and trimming costs. Under previous chief executive Jason Kilar and partly as a pandemic response, the studio implemented day-and-date releases in 2021, opening films simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. Other films, like “Batgirl,” have been produced solely for HBO Max.

Warner Bros. has axed the $90 million “Batgirl” film planned for HBO Max, starring Leslie Grace.

This year, Warner Bros. has returned to exclusive theatrical windows for at least 45 days before sending movies to HBO Max. While “Batgirl” isn’t as pricey as many superhero films, which typically cost $150-200 million to make, it’s a bigger budget movie for an HBO Max title. Zaslav has maintained larger budgeted movies are best served by a theatrical rollout. Yet marketing a movie like “Batgirl” for that kind of release would require tens of millions more. Warner Bros. Discovery is set to report second-quarter earnings Thursday.

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Representatives for Warner Bros. and Warner Bros. Discovery declined to comment.

Warner Bros. also shelved “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” an almost-completed sequel to 2020′s “Scoob!” Producer and writer Tony Cervone confirmed in an Instagram post Tuesday that the “Scoob!” film was canned.

“Yes I am afraid this is true,” wrote Cervone. “The movie is practically finished and turned out beautifully. I am beyond heartbroken.”

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The “Batgirl” cancellation comes as Warner Bros. is trying to revamp its DC Films operations. While “The Batman” earlier this year performed well with $770.8 million in ticket sales, Warners’ DC releases have been erratic and plagued by controversy. “The Flash,” scheduled for release next June, stars Ezra Miller who has been arrested twice this year in Hawaii, in a disorderly conduct case and on suspicion of assault.

Warner Bros. is hoping to reorganize and reset its DC pipeline — going bigger, not smaller with its rival Marvel. Ultimately, “Batgirl” didn’t suit those plans.

Contributing: Naledi Ushe, Charles Trepany, USA TODAY