‘Batgirl’ Shelved: Warner Bros. Discovery CEO Defends Decision

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav addressed the company’s controversial decision this week to cancel releases for “Batgirl” and “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” during the company’s Q2 earnings call on Thursday.

We’re not going to launch a movie until it’s ready,” Zaslav said during the Q&A portion of the call. “We’re not going to go to movie to make a quarter and we’re not we are not going to release a movie. And we’re not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it.”

The decision to shelve two nearly completed feature films — including a superhero property with a $90 million budget — stunned the wider industry. On Wednesday, “Batgirl” directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (“Bad Boys for Life,” “Ms. Marvel”) released a statement that they were “saddened and shocked by the news,” and star Leslie Grace said she was “proud of the love, hard work and intention all of our incredible cast and tireless crew put into this film.”

On Tuesday, Variety reported that the main driver for the decision was the shift in strategy at the company away from creating feature films exclusive to HBO Max, as was the case with “Batgirl” and “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” following the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery.

“This idea of expensive films going direct to streaming — we can’t find an economic case for it, we can’t find an economic value to it, so we’re making a strategic shift,” Zaslav said during the Q&A.

He also addressed this shift during his opening remarks during the Q2 earnings call.

“We will fully embrace theatrical as we believe that creates interest and demand provides a great marketing tailwind, and generates word of mouth buzz as films transition to streaming and beyond,” Zaslav said. “We have a different view on the wisdom of releasing direct streaming films, and we have taken some aggressive steps to course correct the previous strategy.”

During the presentation, CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels cited the strategy driven by previous leadership at WarnerMedia — namely, Jason Kilar and Ann Sarnoff — to bankroll “select direct-to-HBO Max films” as lacking “sufficient support” to sustain. He cited the “Wonder Twins” movie (which was in pre-production), and the nearly completed “Batgirl” and “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt” as “examples of streaming films that do not fit this new strategic approach.”

Wiedenfels said canceling those projects was a “difficult decision,” but the company is “committed to being disciplined about a framework that guides our comfortable investment for maximum return.”

To defray the losses from canceling the films, the company is said to be taking a tax write-down on both movies, citing the shift in strategy in the wake of the merger.

More to come.

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Originally published at variety.com

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