The creators behind HBO Max’s Batgirl say they were so shocked by the streamer’s decision to scrap the film that they tried to log on to servers and record their work on a cellphone, before they had access. was quickly canceled.
Director duo Adil El Arabi and Bilal Falah described how they learned the “shocking” and “painful” news in a video posted to their personal Instagram accounts on Wednesday afternoon.
The film was one of two upcoming feature-length projects that were abandoned as the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery undergoes a massive corporate restructuring. By canceling and shelving the film, the group is able to write it off as a loss and reduce its tax burden, while it focuses on its high debt.
In an interview posted on Monday for YouTube channel SKRIPT, the directors said that Warner assured them that “it was not a problem of talent on our part or the actress, or even the quality of the film. ”
The sudden cancellation left fans eagerly awaiting another entry in the DC Extended Universe. Filmed entirely in Glasgow, for some local businesses, the film was also expected to serve as a star vehicle for singer Leslie Grace, who appeared in the pandemic-delayed musical In the Heights to positive reviews.
“I didn’t even know it was a possibility,” El Arbi says of HBO Max’s decision. “It was like we were right there [making] film history.”
As previously reported, the director—who was born in Belgium—was in Morocco at the time for El Arabi’s wedding. In Wednesday’s video, Fallah pauses to acknowledge the terrible timing: “Congratulations, bro,” he says to his creative partner.
When he got the call, Falah was visiting his grandparents’ grave in Tetouan, while Falah was an hour away in Tangier, enjoying his honeymoon with his wife.
“Thank God my beautiful superhero wife was with me at this time to support me,” says El Arbi.
The two were still putting the finishing touches on the superhero flick, revealing that they were missing all visual effects and had yet to complete the required re-shoots. With the two of them out of the country, in what was supposed to be a celebration, they tried to capture all of their footage before the studio locks them to the remote servers that held their films.
“I immediately called, Martin Walsh, the editor, and said, ‘Yo, you’re gonna pack that shit, you know, backup-copy the movie,'” El Arabi says.
Bilal says: “Then Adil called me and said, ‘Yo, yo, shoot this on your phone!’ So I went to the server and everything got blocked.”
El Arbi immediately apologized for his failed attempt at “theft”.
“It wasn’t the right thing to do, but I was panicking, you know,” he says.
When the ax first went public, a source close to the directors told The Daily Beast that it was all because of money. The film was conceived as a direct-to-streaming film, meaning that the production was far less flashy, although it was not much less expensive than a theatrical film. It’s a strategy for which David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, sees little justification, noting that keeping movies online generates significantly less revenue than putting them on the big screen.
This is a problem, as Zaslav has been accused of undercutting Warner’s $50 billion debt, a priority that has led to massive layoffs at HBO Max and the removal of several shows outright from the platform because it is more The tax follows write-downs and the reduction of residuals.
“This is the final shit to you Jason Keeler. It’s not about art, it’s about financial engineering,” a source told The Daily Beast earlier this month. “It’s not a $90 million movie Well, it’s $60 to $70 million,” he said, disputing reports about the total cost of the film. “It was made as a short film for the streamer. To do it theatrically, they’d have to spend another $40 million in special effects and make it bigger, and even more money in marketing and distribution. ,
Grace, for her part, addressed the cancellation in an Instagram post on August 3.