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The reason why HBO canceled ‘Batgirl’ and ‘Scoob!’ sequels

HBO’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery is taking things in a new direction

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Leslie Grace arrives at a screening of “In the Heights.”

Leslie Grace arrives at a screening of “In the Heights” during the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival on June 4, 2021. Warner Bros. has axed the $90 million “Batgirl” film planned for HBO Max, according to a person connected with the film who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.

Richard Shotwell, Invision via Associated Press

Marvel didn’t shy away from recently announcing 15 upcoming movie and film titles. Meanwhile, HBO seems to be on a canceling spree.

HBO’s “Batgirl” and “Scoob!” sequels have been reportedly shelved, indicating a change in strategy. The superhero film, which was set to premiere on HBO Max, is estimated to have cost anywhere between $70 and $100 million and was nearly completed.

“Batgirl” starred Leslie Grace (“In The Heights”) as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) as Commissioner Gordon, Brendan Fraser (“The Mummy”) as the villain Firefly and Michael Keaton returning as Batman after “Batman” (1989) and Batman Returns (1992).

Tony Cervone’s “Scoob! Holiday Haunt” was in development in July 2021, costing the studio $40 million to make, voiced by stars like Zac Efron (“The Highschool Musical”), Amanda Seyfried (“Mamma Mia!”), Will Forte (“The Last Man on Earth”), Gina Rodriguez (“Jane The Virgin”) and Frank Welker, the original voice of Scooby-Doo.

“The decision to not release ‘Batgirl’ reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. “Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of ‘Batgirl’ and ‘Scoob! Holiday Haunt’ and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.”

Under HBO’s new leadership, streaming is no longer the main priority, according to the report. Unlike the former CEO Jason Kilar, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav wants the company to focus on big-budget films for theatrical release.

Instead of releasing big titles — like “Dune,” “Godzilla vs Kong,” “King Richard,” “The Matrix 4” — in theaters and on HBO Max, simultaneously, Zaslav wants to follow the example set by “Top Gun: Maverick,” which grossed over $1.3 billion in theaters, per Deadline.

After the merger, the company was looking to cut $3 billion in costs — first letting go of CNN+, a $300 million project, then slashing advertising revenue. Now, the studio is cutting down on titles.

Shortly after news about “Batgirl” made headlines, #ReleaseBatgirl started trending on Twitter.