The early Batgirl test screenings were not that bad, according to a new report. Warner Bros. Discovery shocked the entertainment world with the announcement they were completely shelving Batgirl, despite the movie having completed filming and spent approximately $90 million already. It was set to star Leslie Grace (In the Heights) in the title role and also featured Brendan Fraser as the villain Firefly and Michael Keaton reprising his role as Batman.
Quickly following the film’s cancellation, rumors started to circulate about why Warner Bros. Discovery would scrap a film they had already shot. Warner Bros. released a statement saying the movie just did not fit the new direction the studio is taking with DCEU films, and reports following the cancellation suggested the movie was considered a small-scale story not fit for theaters, but also too expensive for streaming on HBO Max. Despite this, there began rumors that the movie was cancelled due to the quality, as Warner Bros. didn’t want to release the film and risk harming the DCEU brand.
However, it appears that was not the case, and the negative reaction Batgirl supposedly received in test screenings might have been exaggerated. In a report from THR following the cancellation of Batgirl, they point out that the studio did test one cut of Batgirl for an audience without completed VFX work and a temp score. The movie reportedly tested in the 60s, which while not a glowing score, was also the same that It tested in 2017 – and that film eventually went on to gross $701 million worldwide.
It is also worth noting that Batgirl tested the same as Shazam! Fury of the Gods, according to the same report, which Warner Bros. has not cancelled and is still set to release in theaters. It also ignores the fact that Warner Bros. Discovery also scrapped Scoob! Holiday Haunt, which was reportedly very close to completion. The fact that two HBO Max original movies were shelved indicates the reason has less to do with each film’s quality and more to do with the studio’s new prioritization of theatrical distribution, and how much they are now willing to spend on streaming material.
Even if Batgirl‘s test was poor, a superhero movie being low-quality has not stopped studios from releasing them in the past. Warner Bros. has a history of releasing DC superhero movies such as Jonah Hex, Green Lantern, and 2016’s Suicide Squad, all of which were savaged by critics. Sony Pictures released Morbius twice in theaters, and that film received some of the worst reviews for any superhero movie released in the past twenty years. In a world where 2015’s Fantastic Four and New Mutants can find release in theaters, it feels hard to believe that Batgirl deserves to be kept forever on the shelf.
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