Column | ‘Batgirl’: An 82 million film went into the vault

They wanted to make film history, says the directing duo of Adil El Arbi andBilall Fallah. “But not so. It was a shock for us and a shock wave forHollywood.” What the Moroccan-Belgian duo experienced in August is quiteunique. At the beginning of 2020, they broke through with the action hit BadBoys For Life with Will Smith, after which they sold for 70 million dollarsfor streaming service HBO Max. batgirl a superhero movie set in Gotham Citywith two exciting comebacks: actor Michael Keaton as Batman and slammed actionhero Brendan Fraser as supervillain Firefly.

Due to Covid vicissitudes, the budget swelled to 82 million, but workprogressed steadily until the producer called at the beginning of August.batgirl was deleted overnight. For studio Warner Bros. it turned out to befiscally beneficial not to release the film. He went into the vault. Forever.Bilall tried to get to the movie through the server to save a scene fromMichael Keaton. „Too late, it was ‘ no access’.”

The duo is a victim of the drive of Warner’s new CEO David Zaslav, who from2009 transformed the school network Discovery into a big name in reality TV.Discovery bought film studio Warner Bros., but with a debt burden of $50billion, hard cuts were required. And something else was going on. Since the2020 streaming war between players like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and HBOMax, absurd amounts have been spent on exclusive ‘content’ for streaming. Lossdid not matter in the pursuit of subscribers.

Now that the growth looks like streaming, it’s time to count the knots. Zaslavthought it illogical that a studio like Warner Bros, traditionally focused onfilm distribution, foregoes hundreds of millions in cinema receipts by puttingfilms directly on streaming. Better to release a movie first in theaters andthen on HBO Max, like in the old days. Then you earn twice as much.

“Maybe we’ll be back on a movie set in two weeks, anything is possible in> Hollywood”

Van Zaslav’s new strategy is batgirl the most significant victim. „ Regimechange is often accompanied by dramatic scenes,” says Bilall resignedly.“Firing employees, canceling projects: that is never pleasant.” To batgirl_HBO Max still required expensive scenes and digital effects. A theatricalversion would have cost a lot more. Canceling was a “cool, purely businessdecision”. However, he denies that the film was a failure, as is alleged. Testaudiences reacted critically to the first version. “But that is precisely theidea of ​​such a test vision: getting feedback. _Bad Boys for Life was onlyready after eleven test visions.”

Adil and Bilall didn’t go to ‘s ‘funeral performances’ batgirl for thoseinvolved in Los Angeles and take comfort in the messages of support andpositive response to their pilot episode for the series Ms. Marvel onDisney+, featuring the first Muslim superhero. And now? ____A new _Bad Boys_movie appears problematic after lead actor Will Smith punched presenter ChrisRock at the Oscars. Bilall: “Will is on vacation for a while, I think.” Butyou never know in Hollywood. Adil: “Maybe we’ll be on a film set in twoweeks.” Bilall: “Anything is possible there.”