Warner Bros. CEO vows to hit the reset button on DC films in wake of ‘Batgirl’ cancellation

Leslie Grace in costume for the movie Batgirl
Photo via Warner Bros.

When Warner Bros/Discovery announced the recent surprise unilateral cancelation of the nearly-finished Batgirl, it caused controversy among fans of the DC brand of downbeat superhero films as well as showbiz talent and their reps across the industry.

According to a report in Deadline, at a recent second-quarter earnings call, David Zaslav, who took the reins at the studio in the wake of a $43 billion merger, defended the decision to investors with a curt, “We’re not going to launch a movie until it’s ready.”

This is the studio’s second time alienating the industry in as many years. In December 2020, at the height of the COVID lockdown, Warners, under previous CEO Jason Kilar, stunned the industry by announcing they would send stream all films on HBO Max the same day they were released to theaters. In that case, Kilar smoothed a lot of ruffled feathers by offering large bonuses to affected creatives.

On the conference call, Zaslav also expressed a desire to reset the studio’s approach to its DCEU series of films, which had begun as a desire to mirror the success of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and devolved into a mess of lawsuits, critically derided films that saw decreased fan support, and the recent cancellation of Batgirl along with the quiet removal of a half-dozen films from the HBO Max streaming service. In the call Zaslav said:

“Our ambition to is bring Warners back and produce great high quality films… We can build a long-term sustainable growth business out of DC” Zaslav continued “we’re not releasing a film before it’s ready. The focus is to make these films as good as possible.”

The question remains, however, whether Hollywood’s writers, directors, and actors will be willing to forgive Warner Bros. and work with them again.