“Batgirl” was cut at the wings before it could really fly, according to lead star Leslie Grace.
The DC film was announced to be shelved by Warner Bros. Discovery in August 2022 for tax break purposes. The $90 million-plus movie was co-directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, and starred Grace in the titular superhero role.
“I found out like the rest of you,” Grace told Variety of the HBO Max film’s cancelation. “And then my phone just started blowing up…It was like deflating a balloon. On that day, I was very much just taking it all in, but also so sure of the magic that happened — in my experience and what I saw in my cast, in our team — that I was like, ‘This must be some crazy thing that we have no control over.'”
Grace’s co-star Brendan Fraser shared that he thought he was “getting punked” with the news of “Batgirl” being given the ax. “When we were expecting XYZ amount of support and money to expand scenes — to do pickup shots and those kinds of things — that was a gut punch,” the Best Actor Oscar nominee said. “But then we learned that it was in the interest of writing down some debt? That part really stung.”
Grace shared that she met with Warner Bros. Film Group CEOs Pam Abdy and Mike De Luca to discuss the fate of the film.
“They explained to me, on a granular level, what they felt about the project, things that were out of their hands, plans and budgets that were set in place before they were even part of the team,” Grace said. “There are a lot of things that I learned through the experience about moviemaking, that as an actress you have no control over. They weren’t really specific on anything creative in terms of what they felt about the film and how it would’ve hurt DC creatively. But I’m a human being, and people have perceptions and people read things. And when words are expressed very lightly about work that people really dedicated a lot of time to — not just myself but the whole crew — I can understand how it could be frustrating.”
Rumors swirled that “Batgirl” had poor test screenings, leading to the film being shelved and Warner Bros. Discovery cutting their losses. New DC Studios co-head Peter Safran recently said the film was “not releasable” and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav was forced to make the “courageous decision” to defund the film. “It would’ve hurt DC, it would’ve hurt those people involved,” Safran said in January 2023. “I think they really stood up to support DC, the characters, the story, the quality and all that.”
Grace admitted that there was “obstacles” during the film’s production in Scotland.
“I’m not going to lie to you. In every film, there are obstacles, and our film was nothing short of that,” she said. “Half of the shoot was night shoots in Scotland, where it never stops raining. So there were obstacles, but at the end of the day, because of the incredible crew, nothing that ever got in the way of us delivering what we knew we wanted to deliver for this film. At least from what I was able to see.”
Grace has still not yet seen a final cut of “Batgirl” but shared that the rough cut was “incredible.”
“That’s the one thing I asked for. I got to see the film as far as it got to; the film wasn’t complete by the time that it was tested,” she explained. “There were a bunch of scenes that weren’t even in there. They were at the beginning of the editing process, and they were cut off because of everything going on at the company. But the film that I got to see — the scenes that were there — was incredible. There was definitely potential for a good film, in my opinion. Maybe we’ll get to see clips of it later on.”
She added, “We’ve definitely had conversations about Batgirl’s future and how Batgirl can make a resurgence. I think fans are looking forward to seeing that. We’ll just see where that takes us; I can’t say one way or the other if that is a reality at this point. I can’t speak too much about a future for Bat- girl or guarantee anything. The last thing that I would want to do is give folks any kind of inkling of something that I have not much control over — as we’ve learned.”
Grace concluded, “I tend to be a very optimistic and positive person in these types of circumstances, and I just really leaned on the beauty of the idea that I got to have this experience in my life. Even though I would’ve loved to share that with the rest of the world, nothing can take that experience away from us.”
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