Warner Bros. Discovery is reportedly holding “funeral screenings” of Batgirl after executives coldly killed the movie earlier this month, “multiple sources” tell The Hollywood Reporter. As part of its cost-cutting mission and a re-focus on theatrical releases, the studio opted to take a tax write-down on its $90 million film rather than offer it on HBO Max.
Apparently, those who worked on the film—both cast and crew—and some executives are being allowed to see Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah’s movie, which starred Leslie Grace (In the Heights) as the titular hero and brought back Michael Keaton as Batman; it also featured comeback kid Brendan Fraser as the villain Firefly and J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Jim Gordon.
But this hat-tip to the film’s insiders may be in advance of a brutal move by the studio, THR says: “Several sources suggested that Warners might make the drastic move of actually destroying its Batgirl footage as a way to demonstrate to the IRS that there will never be any revenue from the project, and thus it should be entitled to the full write-down immediately.”
The news of the screenings comes shortly after the directors talked to French outlet SKRIPT about their reaction to the cancellation, Indiewire reported. “First, when I heard the news, I was shocked, I didn’t know how to react,” Fallah said. “I wanted to break stuff, cry, even laugh. I was like, ‘This is not happening.’”
According to the directors, Warners has blocked their access to the production servers. “We were like, ‘Fucking shit! All the scenes with Batman in them! Shit!’” El Arbi said.
Reactions from the new screenings aren’t in yet, but word is early test screenings weren’t as bad as some rumors suggested. According to ScreenRant, “The movie reportedly tested in the 60s, which while not a glowing score, was also the same that It tested in 2017—and that film eventually went on to gross $701 million worldwide.”
If Warners doesn’t literally torch the film, the possibility remains it could get the Snyder treatment, a.k.a. an eventual release of a film that was initially denied to the public. But this would, as THR points out, “run afoul of rules that allow Warner Bros. Discovery to claim a tax-write down.” It would also potentially challenge the Snyder fanbase, which has a teensy problem with toxicity, including misogyny and racism.
“The ugliest subset of these fans fetishize the ‘good old days’ when heroes were primarily white, straight and male,” Eliana Dockterman wrote in Time. “Some seek to protect that nostalgic but exclusionary version of storytelling at all costs. Trolls within other fandoms have often deployed the same toxic tactics as the #SnyderCut fans to drive women and people of color offline.”
Can a DCEU fandom actually root for a movie with a lady lead? Only time will tell, but #ReleaseBatgirl is, indeed, proliferating on the socials—and some big names are joining the fray. “Seeing all the support on Twitter, and even from big directors Edgar Wright and James Gunn, who sent us supportive messages, it was comforting,” Fallah said in the SKRIPT interview.
On Thursday, THR reports, actress Ivory Aquinio, who plays Batgirl/Barbara Gordon’s roommate, Alysia Yeoh—and would be the first major trans character to appear in a DC film if it was released—read about the possibility that Warner Bros. would destroy all copies of the movie and personally appealed to CEO David Zaslav to “consider releasing Batgirl.”
Aquino tweeted: “I can only endeavor to understand how one feels when tasked with tending to the bottom line like you have. I can’t even begin to imagine what one in your position goes through having such great responsibility to attend to. I do know and ask, with something like Batgirl that’s a product of our hearts and souls, that the little cogs not simply be seen as widgets whose fates are determined by an equation to benefit the bottom line.”
Dear Mr. Zaslav,
I just read an article @THR about supposed ‘funeral screenings’ of #Batgirl and the possibility afterwards that the film footage would be destroyed.. if this is the case, as one of many who poured our hearts into the making of this
— Ivory Aquino (@MsIvoryAquino) August 25, 2022
One crucial voice has yet to weigh in, though: Zack Snyder, comment?
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