Warner Bros. has made plenty of controversial decisions regarding its DC projects over the years, with the abandonment of Zack Snyder's cut of Justice League in favor of Joss Whedon's placing high on the list. The divisive move led to a several-year campaign to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut that eventually proved successful and most believed could never be matched.
That was until recently when the new Warner Bros. Discovery management regime made the decision to cancel the HBO Max original Batgirl movie. Several reasons have already been given regarding the decision, including the quality of the flick, the focus on theatrical events over streaming movies, and the plan to take a tax write-down to save money.
Just as has happened with many canceled projects, a #SaveBatgirl campaign emerged on social media to rescue the DC flick. This may have worked in the past, with cases such as Zack Snyder's Justice League and Brooklyn Nine-Nine being among the most famous, but any rescue doesn't appear to be in the cards for Batgirl.
Why HBO Max's Batgirl Can't Be Saved
The Hollywood Reporter explained in a recent article why Batgirl won't eventually be released similarly to Zack Snyder's Justice League, despite receiving a similar outcry from fans.
Part of the reasoning behind the cancellation of Batgirl came from Warner Bros.'s ability to take a tax write-down by abandoning the flick, something that was not done in cutting hours of Zack Snyder's Justice League footage. By making this move to save money on tax and enhance profits, the studio becomes legally prohibited from releasing Batgirl in any way that generates revenue.
Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have also noted they have no access to the footage that was filmed for Batgirl, in contrast to Snyder who departed Justice League with his rough cut saved to a laptop, allowing him to later complete the blockbuster.
Typically, when a studio accepts a tax write-down on a project that will lose revenue, the saving will be granted over several years in order to demonstrate how much money is lost off the project over time. Several of THR's sources have claimed Warner Bros. may attempt to prove to the IRS that Batgirl will never generate any revenue by destroying all footage.
However, other sources disputed the claim by pointing out Warner Bros. still has footage saved for scrapped projects such as HBO's Bloodmoon, the unaired pilot for the first attempt at a Game of Thrones spin-off. If the footage was saved, Warner Bros. could theoretically release Batgirl down the line and repay the tax write-down to the government.
No Resurrections This Time
The viral campaign to release Zack Snyder's Justice League may have proven successful in the long run, but the situation surrounding Batgirl is clearly different. In taking a tax write-down, Warner Bros. will be legally committing to abandoning the flick, with certain reports suggesting they may go as far as to delete the existing footage off the face of the Earth.
Not to mention, the calls to save Batgirl are clearly nowhere near as strong as the Snyder Cut movement which remained dedicated to the cause for several years. Fans may currently be outraged with the decision, but the Batman spin-off likely wouldn't have seen any insane success, especially if it was limited to an HBO Max release.
Batgirl was also far further from completion than many originally believed, as the directors have since revealed, the DC flick still had most of its VFX work to be done and reshoots were to take place. By contrast, Zack Snyder's Justice League was nearing completion and didn't require a huge amount of work to finish after the project was resurrected.
Ever since the change of Warner Bros. regime, the studio appears to be falling short on cash to continue operating at full capacity. Reports have already revealed Warner Bros. only has the cash to release two movies across the rest of this year - Black Adam and Don't Worry Darling - so the tax write-down on Batgirl and other projects was probably a means to lessen the cash-flow problem.
Even though the movement to release Zack Snyder's Justice League may have been successful, it's important to remember the rarity of a case such as that succeeding. At the end of the day, Warner Bros., for better or for worse, is the one to make the calls on the direction of its brands in order to push them in the way it sees fit.
Zack Snyder's Justice League is streaming now on HBO Max; Batgirl will unfortunately no longer be released.