The creators behind HBO Max’s bat girl say they were so stunned by the streamer’s decision to delete the film that they tried to log into the server and save their work on a cellphone before their access was quickly revoked.
Director duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have shared how they learned of the ‘shocking’ and ‘painful’ news in a video posted to their individual Instagram accounts on Wednesday afternoon.
The film was one of two upcoming feature projects that were sacrificed as Warner Bros. Newly merged Discovery undergoes extensive corporate restructuring. By canceling and shelving the film, the conglomerate is able to write it off as a loss and reduce its tax burden while focusing on its exorbitant debt.
In an interview for the YouTube channel SKRIPT Released on Monday, the directors said Warner executives assured them “it was not a talent issue on our part or the actress, or even the quality of the film.”
The abrupt cancellation disappointed fans who had been eagerly awaiting another entry in the DC Extended Universe. Filmed entirely in Glasgow, much to the chagrin of some local businessesthe film was also to serve as a star vehicle for singer Leslie Gracewho appeared in the pandemic-delayed musical In the heights to positive reviews.
“I didn’t even know that was a possibility,” El Arbi said of HBO Max’s decision. “It was as if we were [making] movie history right there.
As previously mentioned, the directors, born in Belgium, were in Morocco for the wedding of El Arbi at the time. In Wednesday’s video, Fallah pauses to acknowledge the terrible timing: “Congratulations bro,” he says to his creative partner.
“I didn’t even realize that was a possibility. It was as if we were [making] the history of cinema here.”
When they got the call, Fallah was in Tetouan to visit his grandparents’ grave, while Fallah was an hour’s drive away in Tangier, enjoying his honeymoon there with his wife.
“Thank goodness my beautiful superhero wife was there with me supporting me through this time,” El Arbi says.
The duo were still putting the finishing touches on the superhero film, they revealed, adding that they were missing all the visual effects and hadn’t finished the necessary reshoots yet. With the two out of the country for what was supposed to be a celebration, they tried to get their hands on all of their footage before the studio locked it off the remote server that held their film.
“I called, right away, Martin Walsh, the editor, and I said, ‘Yo, you gotta wrap that shit up, you know, save – copy the movie,'” El Arbi says.
Bilal adds: “Then Adil called me and said, ‘Yo, yo, shoot it on your phone!’ So I went to the server and everything was blocked.
El Arbi quickly apologized for his failed attempt at “hacking”.
“It wasn’t the right thing to do, but I was freaking out, you know,” he says.
When the ax first went public, a source close to the directors told The Daily Beast that it was all about the money. The film was designed as a live-action film, meaning the production was much less flashy, but not much cheaper, than a theatrical film. This is a strategy that the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, finds very little justification, considering that putting films online generates much less revenue than putting them on the big screen. That’s a problem, as Zaslav is tasked with reducing Warner’s $50 billion debt, a priority that led to massive layoffs at HBO Max and the outright removal of many broadcasts from the platform as it pursues more tax write-downs and residual reduction.
“It’s the finale, fuck off with Jason Kilar. It’s not about art, it’s about financial engineering,” a source told The Daily Beast earlier this month. is not a 90 million dollar film, it is between 60 and 70 million dollars”, he added, disputing the information on the total cost of the film. “It was built as a small film for the To make it theatrically, they’d have to spend another $40 million on special effects and make it bigger, and even more money on marketing and distribution.
Grace, for her part, addressed the cancellation in an Instagram post on Aug. 3.
“On the heels of recent news regarding our film ‘Batgirl’, I’m proud of the love, hard work and intent that all of our amazing actors and tireless crew put into this film for 7 months in Scotland” , she wrote. “To all Batgirl fans – THANK YOU for the love and belief, which allowed me to take the course and become, as Babs said best, ‘my fucking hero!'”
A few industry insiders will get a chance to get a glimpse of the bat girl cut during secret “funeral screenings” on Warner Bros. lot. this week, according to The Hollywood Reporter.