Safran says “Batgirl” was “unpublishable” and would “hurt” DC

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav “made a very bold and courageous decision to cancel,” Safran said.

Six months after ‘Batgirl’ was canceled, new details are emerging.

DC Studios co-head Peter Safran has spoken about the indefinitely shelved superhero film starring Leslie Grace, Brendan Fraser and JK Simmons. Batgirl was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah and had a budget of $90 million. Instead, the film got the ax in August 2022 for tax write-off purposes after rumored poor test screenings before the VFX effects were added to post-production. Simply appearing on HBO Max would not have helped the studio recoup its investment.

“I’ve seen the movie,” Safran said at DC’s Los Angeles premiere. “There were so many incredibly talented people in front of and behind the camera on that film. But this film could not be released. It happens sometimes. That film could not be released.”

He added: “I actually think that (David) Zaslav and the team made a very bold and brave decision to cancel because it would have hurt DC and it would have hurt the people involved. I think they’ve been very supportive of DC, the characters, the story, the quality, everything.”

Safran added that he spoke with filmmakers El Arbi and Fallah just a week ago.

“We would love to work with these people,” Safran said. “Christina Hodson, the writer, is someone we’ll be doing business with again. Many talented people were involved, but the film simply could not be released. He would not have been able to compete in the theater market. Made for the small screen. I don’t think it was an easy decision, but they made the right decision to put him aside.”

El Arbi and Fallah were announced today as the leads for “Bad Boys 4,” with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reprising their roles. As for Batgirl, the co-directors previously disputed claims that the film was inappropriate.

“The guys at Warners told us that it wasn’t about us or the actress, it wasn’t even about the quality of the film, the talent,” El Arbi said in August 2022. “They said it was a strategic change. It was new management and they wanted to save money.”

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO Zaslav called “Batgirl” the casualty of DC’s restructuring amid a “reset” before Safran and DC Studios co-head James Gunn were announced.

“It’s very similar to the structure that Alan Horn and Bob Iger put together very effectively with Kevin Feige at Disney,” Zaslav said. “We believe we can build DC into a long-term, much more sustainable growth business, and as part of that we will focus on quality.”

As for “Batgirl,” he added, “We’re not going to release a single movie until it’s done … The focus is going to be how do we make these movies the best they can be in general? We can make DC better, and that’s what we’re focused on right now.”

Read more about Safran’s plan with Gunn to spin the direction of the DC Cinematic Universe here.

Reporting by Brian Welk.

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