On August 2, IndieWire confirmed that “Batgirl” would be shelved indefinitely after originally being set for an HBO Max release. The film had a reported budget of $90 million due to COVID protocols and shutdowns piling onto the already-$80-million movie. Leslie Grace (“In the Heights”) starred in the title role, with J.K. Simmons, Michael Keaton, and Brendan Fraser rounding out the cast.
Co-directors El Arbi and Fallah are still determined, however, for “Batgirl” to eventually see the light of day, and they also shut down rumors that poor test screenings led to Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to cancel the release.
“The guys from Warners told us it was not a talent problem from our part or the actress, or even the quality of the movie,” El Arbi said during an interview with SKRIPT. “They told us it was a strategic change. There was new management, and they wanted to save some money.”
At the time, the “Ms. Marvel” and “Bad Boys for Life” filmmakers were in the post-production phase of the feature, with VFX effects still needed. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav opted to shelve the film for a tax write-off.
Co-director Fallah revealed, “First, when I heard the news, I was shocked, I didn’t know how to react. I wanted to break stuff, cry, even laugh. I was like, ‘This is not happening.'”
With a #ReleaseBatgirl hashtag circulating on social media, Fallah and El Arbi are open to the idea of a #ReleasetheSynderCut success story for the DC film…if “Batgirl” can ever be finished first or release from studio clutches.
“[‘Batgirl]’ cannot be released in its current state,” El Arbi clarified. “Before it’s released one day, there would be a lot of work still to do. Just like the ‘Snyder Cut.’ There’s no VFX, we still had to shoot some scenes. So if [Warner Bros. Discovery] wanted us to release the ‘Batgirl’ movie they would need to give us the means to do it, to finish it properly with our vision.”
But first Arbi and Fallah will have to actually get access to their film: The filmmaking duo alleged that Warner Bros. Discovery has blocked their access to the production servers.
“We have nothing,” Fallah said. “Adil called me and said, ‘Shoot everything on your phone.’ I went on the server, and everything was blocked.”
El Arbi recalled, “We were like, ‘Fucking shit! All the scenes with Batman in them! Shit!'”
But the duo are still holding out hope for their superhero movie.
“Seeing all the support on Twitter, and even from big directors Edgar Wright and James Gunn, who sent us supportive messages, it was comforting,” Fallah said.
El Arbi agreed: “After all we make movies for the audience, not for us. We just hope that one day the movie will be released, for the cast and crew. We are a small family.”