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‘Batgirl’ Was ‘Not Releasable’ and Would Have ‘Hurt’ DC, Says Safran

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Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav “made a very bold and courageous decision to cancel it,” Safran said.

Six months after “Batgirl” was canceled new details are coming to light.

DC Studios co-head executive Peter Safran addressed the indefinitely shelved superhero film that was set to star Leslie Grace, Brendan Fraser, and J.K. Simmons. “Batgirl” was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah and had a reported budget of $90 million. The film was instead given the ax in August 2022 for tax write-off purposes after rumored poor testings screenings before VFX effects were added in post-production. Simply releasing it on HBO Max would not have helped the studio recoup its investment.

“I saw the movie,” Safran said at the DC presentation in Los Angeles. “There were a lot of incredibly talented people in front of and behind the camera on that film. But that film was not releasable. It happens sometimes. That film was not releasable.”

He added, “I actually think that [David] Zaslav and the team made a very bold and courageous decision to cancel it, because it would’ve hurt DC, it would’ve hurt those people involved. I think they really stood up to support DC, the characters, the story, the quality and all that.”

Safran added that he spoke with filmmakers El Arbi and Fallah just one week ago.

“We’d love to be in business with all of those folks,” Safran said. “Christina Hodson, the writer, she’s somebody we’re already back in business with. A lot of talented people involved, but the film was just not releasable. It would not have been able to compete in the theatrical marketplace. It was built for the small screen. I think it was not an easy decision, but they made the right decision by shelving it.”

El Arbi and Fallah were announced today to be helming “Bad Boys 4” with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reprising their respective roles. As for “Batgirl,” the co-directors previously disputed claims that the film was not up to par.

“The guys from Warners told us it was not a talent problem from our part or the actress, or even the quality of the movie,” El Arbi said in August 2022. “They told us it was a strategic change. There was new management, and they wanted to save some money.”

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO Zaslav called “Batgirl” a casualty of restructuring DC amid a “reset” before Safran and co-DC Studios head James Gunn were announced in their respective positions.

“It’s very similar to the structure that Alan Horn and Bob Iger put together very effectively with Kevin Feige at Disney,” Zaslav said. “We think we could build a long-term, much more sustainable growth business out of DC, and as part of that, we’re going to focus on quality.”

As for “Batgirl,” he added, “We’re not going to release any film before it’s ready…The focus is going to be, how do we make each of these films, in general, as good as possible? DC is something we can make better, and we’re focused on it now.”

Read more about Safran’s plan with Gunn to pivot the direction of DC’s film universe here.

Reporting by Brian Welk.

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