'Batgirl' Cancellation Causes Flurry of Questions About HBO Max's Future

The upcoming Batgirl movie has reportedly been shelved at HBO Max, prompting fans to ask questions about the streaming platform's future.

HBO Max parent company Warner Bros. Discovery has decided that the nearly $90 million Batman spinoff, which had been expected to be released later this year, will no longer be released on the HBO Max platform, in theaters or on any other platform owned by the company, according to a report from The Wrap that was later confirmed by Variety.

Batgirl, which had completed filming earlier this year, stars Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl alongside a supporting cast that includes J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser and Michael Keaton, who had been set to reprise the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Executives reportedly decided to axe the film because they felt it "simply did not work" despite costly reshoots.

Leslie Grace
The release of the film 'Batgirl,' which was expected on HBO Max later this year, has reportedly been canceled. In this combination image, Leslie Grace attends 2021 Costume Institute Benefit - In America: A Lexicon of Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City and a billboard for HBO is pictured in Hollywood, California, on December 21, 2020.

The decision was made following the arrival of new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who is championing cost-cutting measures and favors releasing films theatrically instead of on streaming platforms, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The cancellation of Batgirl prompted speculation about the future of HBO Max on Twitter, including comments from those who repeated unconfirmed rumors that the platform itself may be in the process of getting canceled or restructured.

"Batgirl movie cancelled," video game designer David Ellis tweeted. "Rumors that HBO Max is getting killed off as a service. What the heck is going on?"

"Okay, here's the RUMOR re the #WBD presentation on Thursday," film critic and YouTuber Grace Randolph tweeted. "#HBOMax will be folded INTO #DiscoveryPlus not vice versa, probably as #HBO tab - getting rid of #HBOMax scripted, overall streaming focusing on unscripted - #HBO stays as is, as a premium cable channel."

"I have to assume the tax writeoff is more valuable than whatever value HBO Max would get out of having it as an exclusive, but this is so bizarre, and yet another reason to be worried that all the new management from Discovery is agnostic about scripted content," TV critic Alan Sepinwall tweeted.

"But it exists! You already paid for it! Just put it on HBO Max!" Sepinwall added in a later tweet. "Hell, sell it on VOD! It's not like they abandoned it at the script stage, or even a few weeks into filming. It is d-o-n-e."

Many also commented on the purportedly poor quality of the film being the reason it was removed from the release schedule.

"Almost done and not releasing it ANYWHERE???" tweeted commentator and producer Morgan Tremaine. "There's no way Batgirl could be SOOO bad that it's worth eating the entire production cost. Our opinion of DC films isn't that high, believe me. And also... HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO BRENDAN FRASER??"

"Spoke to people that saw #Batgirl and they said it was a huge disappointment," tweeted Steven Weintraub, editor-in-chief of Collider. "Also that the costumes looked cheap especially Keaton's Batman costume. I figured WB would dump it on HBO Max but looks like we will never see it."

Keaton is expected to return to the role of Batman in the upcoming film The Flash, which is still set to be released next year despite a series of instances of alleged abuse by star Ezra Miller. Some commenters questioned the decision to cancel Batgirl while still planning to move forward with releasing The Flash with Miller in the starring role.

"Warner Bros cancels Batgirl but they're all in on The Flash with Ezra Miller. All of this is going to be a disaster," writer Wajahat Ali tweeted.

"How on Earth is the 'Batgirl' movie being completely scrapped before 'The Flash,' which stars a literal psychopath," tweeted writer Joshua Axelrod.

"Ezra Miller on the run after being creepy with kids — The Flash is still on track," web developer Mike Beasley tweeted. "Morbius was released TWICE - How bad was Batgirl????"

The $40 million animated movie Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, which had also been set for an HBO Max release, has been canceled as well, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Newsweek reached out to HBO Max for comment.