Warner Bros. Considers Abandoning HBO Max Plan for Batgirl Release

By Sam Hargrave Updated:
Batgirl, Michael Keaton

Hollywood is entering a new age as the focus shifts from theaters to streaming. Disney+ and HBO Max look to be leading the charge in the new age, bringing direct-to-streaming projects from the Marvel and DC universes. While Marvel Studios already delivered six series in the last year, Warner Bros. just recently kickstarted its push with James Gunn's Peacemaker, soon to be followed by the HBO Max original Batgirl movie.

Leslie Grace will soon make her DC debut as the titular Caped Crusader in Batgirl, in which she will be antagonized by Brendan Fraser's Firefly. Following his return in The Flash, Michael Keaton is back once again as Batman, with J.K. Simmons reprising his Justice League role as her father, Commissioner Jim Gordon.

Up until now, Batgirl has been listed among Blue Beetle and more as an HBO Max original release, with Warner Bros. planning to skip theaters altogether. However, recent reports indicate that, following the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, the new management at the studio is considering shifting course.

Batgirl Could Still Go to Theaters

According to a report from Puck, Warner Bros. Discovery is considering abandoning the HBO Max exclusive release plan for Leslie Grace's Batgirl in favor of a theatrical run.

Warner Bros. is reportedly now debating investing more money into Batgirl to enhance the post-production budget and marketing spend to allow for a theatrical run. The news comes just weeks after The Batman was added to HBO Max and looks to be generating big numbers.

Puck also claims that after the "Great Netflix Correction of ‘22" - which saw the streamer lose 200k subscribers in the first three months of the year - Hollywood is rethinking its current all-in approach to streaming.

Batgirl was filmed prior to the Warner Bros. and Discovery merger under a $70 million production budget. The original plan under former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar was to release the mid-budget DC flick directly onto HBO Max, in hopes of competing with streaming giant Netflix.

When Could Batgirl Come to Theaters?

Batgirl was marketed from the beginning as an HBO Max original movie, making talks of a move to theaters this late in the game surprising, to say the least. Then again, a Gotham-set DC flick with a stellar cast featuring Batgirl, Batman, and Commissioner Gordon, would undoubtedly succeed at the box office, making the move a smart one.

Up until recently, Batgirl had been expected to premiere exclusively on HBO Max towards the end of this year. But since Michael Keaton's Batman role follows his return in The Flash, which will bring about major long-term changes for the DCEU, Batgirl may be delayed until next year to come after the June 2023 debut of the speedster epic.

Photos from the Glasgow set have already revealed Batgirl will take place over the festive season, which may push the release all the way until late 2023 if Warner Bros. is eager to maintain the thematic connection.

A Christmas superhero movie would undoubtedly achieve great success at the holiday box office, making a move to theaters a smart one, even if the blockbuster isn't delayed. It should be noted that Blue Beetle, DC's next HBO Max original movie, already has an August 18, 2023, release date, while Batgirl has yet to offer such an announcement, indicating Warner Bros. may still be uncertain of the plan.

The industry was always prepared for the merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery to spur a great change of course for DC and the studio as a whole. Many hoped this acquisition could be the thing to finally be the defining moment to "Restore the SnyderVerse," but that doesn't currently look to be the case.

Batgirl is currently expected to premiere exclusively on HBO Max this December, but perhaps an announcement of a move to theaters could come this week at the annual CinemaCon event.

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.