In yet another bizarre Batgirl update, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the HBO Max casualty is, in fact, receiving theatrical screenings – but not for the public. For all of the time and effort spent, and the $90 million that was shoveled into production, the DCEU film will be given a “funeral screening.” What this means is that the only people permitted to the screenings will be the cast and crew, and the representatives and executives involved. So essentially these bleak screenings will fill the seats with all the people who want the movie to be released to the public.
Sometime this week, following the funeral screenings for HBO‘s other nearly-complete feature film, Scoob! Holiday Haunt, the Warner Bros. lot will host a private screening for those involved in the production of Batgirl, starring Leslie Grace. According to THR, these morose screenings are held prior to the footage being buried, so to speak, and locked away in a type of vault, whether it be physical or digital, as a sort of “undisclosed afterlife.” While this may sound promising to those still holding out for a future release, this isn’t a Disney Vault type of situation. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav signed the death warrant when he opted to ax the project in favor of a tax write-down, in the hopes of raking in around $3 billion in savings.
Though fans have seen the resurrection of one abandoned DC film with Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the likelihood of something like that happening for Batgirl is slim. For starters, Zaslav‘s write-down creates legal liabilities for the studio that would penalize the money received from their claim if Batgirl were released by Warners. As it is, Warner Bros. Discovery will receive increments over time. The potential to receive the full write-down immediately, as opposed to the percentage received while the film still exists, causes some to question whether the studio might destroy the footage as a show of good faith to the IRS. If revenue cannot be made, revenue cannot be lost.
Another option fans may have been holding their breath for was the hopes that Batgirl filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah may have retained footage to complete themselves, similar to Justice League. Unfortunately, while director Zack Snyder was able to walk off the Warner Bros. lot with a laptop loaded up with “a rough, four-hour cut of the film,” back in 2017, directors El Arbi and Fallah‘s experience was much different. In an interview, the two creators disclosed that shortly after hearing about the cancellation they rightfully went to the server to salvage what they could, but found that they had been blocked by Warner Bros. It’s possible others close to the film may have some footage on personal drives, but if so they’re keeping quiet.
Batgirl would have seen Michael Keaton reprising his role as Batman for the first time since 1989, as well as J.K. Simmon‘s return as Commissioner James Gordon and Brendan Fraser as Firefly.
The conscious choice to scrap a film that was in post-production remains an unprecedented mystery, despite the studio’s claims that Batgirl’s quality was poor, or that it’d cost too much to have a theatrical release at this point. El Arbi and Fallah squashed the quality rumors, asserting that the film was still going through edits, and judging by the public’s reactions the costs of marketing would have been well worth the consideration of the cast and crew’s time and effort. It seems the most likely way fans will get to see the scrapped movie is if Warner Bros. decides Batgirl is worth the payback to the government sometime down the line. Those funeral screenings are going to be gloomy affair, but maybe someone can snag some footage on their phones.