Batgirl: Funeral Screenings on Warner Lot on the Way to Oblivion?

Batgirl will not be flying onto HBO Max screens, but some insiders got to see the film during secret screenings on the Warner Bros. lot this week.

They were people who worked on the movie, both cast and crew, as well as representatives and executives.

One source described them as “funeral screenings,” held before the film is sent off to an undisclosed afterlife, with footage locked away in a vault, either physical or digital.

On Aug. 2, Batman became a most talked-about film when news broke that new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav had opted to scrap the $90 million DC film in order to take a tax write-down.

Batgirl was deep in postproduction when Warners canceled the project but was still far from complete, with temp visual effects and score. The film had previously held a single test screening, the only time members of the public saw a cut.

Could Batgirl become the next Zack Snyder’s Justice League, an abandoned film that later sees the light of day?

But Batgirl is different for multiple reasons. Justice League was not a tax write-down for the studio. It was released in theaters, and there was no legal reason an alternate version could not exist down the road. If the studio were to release Batgirl, it would run afoul of rules that allow Warner Bros. Discovery to claim a tax-write down.

What’s more, filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah say they do not personally have access to any footage, though sources say it’s possible some players connected to the project may have footage on personal drives. In contrast, when Snyder left Justice League in the spring of 2017, he departed with a laptop containing rough, four-hour cut of the film, one he later would complete after a years-long campaign from fans demanding to see his version of the film.

Generally, a studio will not get the full tax write-down immediately on a money-losing project, but rather will get a certain percentage right away and the rest over a period of years. That’s because it’s unclear how much a project might make (or lose) over its lifetime as it hits cable and other platforms.

Leslie Grace starred as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in the film, which was supposed to be one of several modestly budgeted DC projects made directly for HBO Max as part of former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar’s push to juice the streaming service. Zaslav, who took the reins of the combined company in April, has reversed that strategy and is pushing Warners back to a focus on theatrical first.

While Batgirl has nabbed the most attention for being killed, it wasn’t the only victim to Zaslav’s tax write-down strategy. Scoob! Holiday Haunt, another nearly completed film that was canceled the same day as Batgirl, had its own funeral screening on the Warners lot last week.