Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav addressed why the “Batgirl” movie was killed and will not be released, saying bluntly during the company’s earnings call that they are focused on quality and will not put out a film that doesn’t meet those standards.
“We’re not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it. That’s it,” Zaslav said. “The objective is to grow the DC brand, to grow the DC characters, but also our job is to protect the DC brand, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
It’s a bleak message for “Batgirl,” which an insider told TheWrap on Wednesday had not tested well, but it speaks to Warner Bros. Discovery’s broader approach to releasing films direct to streaming and their overall priority for the DC brand.
Zaslav when asked by an analyst about the press surrounding “Batgirl” said that “DC is top of the list” for the studio, and they’re even looking to enact a broad 10-year-plan modeled off of the Marvel model established with Kevin Feige at Disney.
But the context of his remarks on “Batgirl” was focused more specifically on streaming titles. Zaslav said when it comes to direct-to-streaming movies with expensive budgets and the benefit that’s gained in terms of how many people seek out those titles directly on streaming, there is “no comparison to what happens when you launch a film in theaters.”
“This idea of expensive films going to streaming, we cannot find an economic case for it, so we are making a strategic shift,” he said.
“Batgirl” was developed by the prior regime and was intended directly for streaming, and it did not have the heft or the budget of other theatrical DC titles, even though the production budget had ballooned to a reported $90 million. And earlier in the call, the WBD CFO also referenced titles like “Scoob! Holiday Haunt” and DC’s “Wonder Twins” movie as examples of more expensive titles that did not fit that overall strategy, the latter of which was reported to be canceled several months ago and was not as far into development as “Batgirl,” which was close to finished.
As part of Zaslav’s opening statements in the earnings call on Thursday, the CEO stressed a strategy of quality over quantity and a strategic shift away from the streaming-centric approach of the prior leadership at Warner Bros. before it merged with Discovery.
“It’s not about how much, it’s about how good,” he said. “Curation, quality and brands have never been more important. And that is what we do best.”