Why would Warner Bros. not release Batgirl on HBO Max just?

Why would Warner Bros. not release Batgirl on HBO Max just? ...

The film industry has been shocked by Warner Bros.' decision to postpone its Batgirl film, despite the fact that the film was still in post-production and relatively complete. Such decisions are rare, and it seems absurd that any company would simply scrap a project that cost $90 million, no matter how awful it might be. In the past, it was more common for troubled projects to be quietly released on streaming or home video formats to never see the light of day.

Why would Warner Bros. choose not to recover some of its investment and release Batgirl on HBO Max's streaming platform, HBO Max? In fact, Batgirl was originally intended as an HBO Max streaming exclusive, and this was part of its failure.

The New York Post presented the decision as one driven solely by pleasure. In sensational terms, the film was referred to as unimaginable, irredeemable, and a DC catastrophe that would irreparably damage the brand. However, further reporting suggests that this is incorrect or at least an oversimplification.

Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who directed the hit 2020 action film Bad Boys for Life and were the primary producers of Ms. Marvel for Disney Plus, were among the actors who performed alongside J.K. Simmons, Michael Keaton, and Brendan Fraser. The film was evaluated by audiences and the end was not that bad.

Sources at Variety agreed that the decision was not about the quality of the films, but rather about a strategic move at the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery organization, headed by new CEO David Zaslav, to ensure all DC movies are theatrical releases at blockbuster scale. Batgirls' budget, although small, had been created with a streaming release in mind and would not have matched the scale of planned DC releases, such as Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and The Flash.

According to Puck, Zaslav is considering a new head of Marvel Studios' DC film division, which would essentially play Kevin Feige's role at the studio. Despite this, the studio thought about promoting Batgirl to a theatrical release.

Even a desire to make changes to Warner Bros.' chaotic management of DC properties cannot quite account for the decision to cancel the film outright, however. Two additional factors may explain the extremeness of this move: a different accounting system and a philosophical shift inside Hollywood.

The Deadline report, as well as Variety's follow-up, accuse studio accountants of deciding that a tax write-down was the most financially sound way to recoup film expenses, while Deadline claimed that Warner Bros.' merger with Discovery would close the door to such accounting maneuvers in mid-August. That would account for the suddenness and unusualness of the decision.

Zaslav has openly rejected his predecessor Jason Kilar's decision to release all Warner Bros. films, including Dune and The Matrix Resurrections, day-and-date on HBO Max during the epidemic. Kilar's aim was to increase HBO Max subscriber numbers, but the long-term value of those subscribers vs. box office revenues is now in jeopardy.

When Hollywood executives and Wall Street investors saw that Netflix's drive for subscriber growth was apparent, it became shaky. At the same time, Paramount Plus proved that it was justified in sticking to Top Gun: Maverick for two years, despite having its own streaming service.

Many in Hollywood are claiming that a theatrical release confers status on a streaming service when it arrives there; The Batman is said to have performed extremely well on HBO Max after making Warner Bros. $770 million in theaters, according to Deadline; films are prized because they have cultural relevance when they first debut in theaters 45 days later.

Money talks, and it's clear that films can still make money in theaters as well as increase subscriber growth. Batgirls' cancellation may be a matter of accounting expediency, but it's also a symbolic move that is surely not lost on investors and industry-watchers.