Warner Bros. Discover (WBD) has had an eventful week scrapping a slate of titles across their various platforms. Some projects were nearly completed and some were in their earlier developmental stages.
Among axed projects was DC Entertainment’s $90 million-budgeted “Batgirl,” despite the film being nearly complete, according to the project’s directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah.
“We are saddened and shocked by the news,” El Arbi and Fallah said. “We still can’t believe it. 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.”
Another major project shelved was the $40 million animated sequel titled “SCOOB: Holiday Haunt,” the anticipated follow up to the 2020 film “SCOOB!”
“The movie is practically finished and turned out beautifully,” Producer Tony Cervone said after hearing the news. “I am beyond heartbroken.”
Reports indicated that these surprising cancellations were a product of financial frailty. Newly appointed President and CEO David Zaslav is looking to resolve many past issues Warner Bros. had before the merger with Discovery earlier this year. Rebrands and cancellations seem to be the way of going about his corporate restructuring.
“I feel blessed to have worked among absolute greats and forged relationships for a lifetime in the process,” Batgirl star Leslie Grace said in a tweet. “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! Batgirl for life!”
Warner Bros Discovery will reportedly save approximately $15 to $20 million from canceling “Batgirl” alone.
“Batgirl” was supposed to feature Michael Keaton’s return to Batman in over 30 years and the shelving of this film only proves the future of DC is left up in the air. Keaton is supposed to show up in “The Flash,” starring Ezra Miller.
“Black Adam” and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” are releasing this year, and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is slated for a 2023 release, but “The Flash” has still not found a concrete spot for premier.
DC properties in production facing possible cuts include “Black Canary,” “Static,” “Hourman,” “Plastic Man” and “Zatanna.”
Some sources stated that WBD has shelved projects in an effort to curb tax budgets as well. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Zaslav deduced these films would regain more of their mega-budgets as tax write-downs rather than theatrical or HBO Max releases.
At today’s second quarter earnings call, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that their two major streamer platforms, HBO Max and Discovery+, will in fact be merging. There is no word on what the new streaming service will be called, but it is supposed to be announced at WBD Investor Day at the end of this year. The new service will launch in the Summer of 2023 in the United States and will feature ad-free, ad-lite and free but with ads options.
Casey Bloys Chairman and CEO, HBO and HBO Max Content, is taking over all scripted shows and will decide what projects move forward under this new brand.
“We’ve had a busy, productive four months since launching Warner Bros. Discovery, and have more conviction than ever in the massive opportunity ahead,” Zaslav said. “We have the most powerful creative engine and bouquet of owned content in the world, as highlighted by our industry leading 193 Emmy nominations, and we intend to maximize the value of that content through a broad distribution model that includes theatrical, streaming, linear cable, free-to-air, gaming, consumer products and experiences, and more, everywhere in the world.”
According to Zaslav, this newly formed company has repaid over $6 billion in debt by the end of this month, with $2 billion more by the end of the year.
Read the full report here.
WBD also announced that the company’s main content focus will be on HBO, Discovery, HGTV, Cartoon Network, DC Entertainment and Looney Tunes. The DC Comics centered content included Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The Wizarding World and Game of Thrones are also seeing a majority of company focus, according to the leaders present at the second quarter earnings call.
Zaslav said DC will have a 10 year plan, similar to what Alan Horn (now at WBD), Bob Iger and Kevin Feige put together at Marvel Studios.
“We are working on making DC better,” Zaslav said. “With DC we want to pivot, elevate and focus. We’re not going to release a film before it’s ready. DC is something we think could be better. We’ve seen [“Black Adam” and “The Flash”], and we think we can make them even better.”
According to Zaslav, protecting DC’s large array of characters is of utmost importance. The report surmised that WBD’s main strategy is quality over quantity, because they believe more earnings are to be gained from that traction, and Zaslav stated that it’s the commitment all leadership agrees on.