Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Gunnar Weidenfels is defending the company's controversial decision to shelve its Batgirl movie, instead of releasing it in theaters or on HBO Max. The decision, which was first made public last month, shocked the entertainment industry when it was announced, especially since the film had already wrapped production and was in the middle of post-production. While speaking at a Bank of America conference on Thursday, Weidenfels argued that the decision was "blown out of proportion" by media coverage, and argued that the decision is not "unusual" as the company is shifting its content strategy.
"Clearly the course corrections, making changes quickly where we don't agree with the track that WarnerMedia was on, that took a lot of courage and execution early," Weidenfels explained. "I don't think it is unusual, we are a creative industry and one of the elements of creativity is that there is judgment and views on what the potential of what a certain piece of IP might be."
Reports indicated that Batgirl's cancellation was partially so the company could take a tax write-down on it, potentially saving upwards of $20 million by not releasing the project. With Batgirl being one of several projects
"I am glad to see a more rational approach to content spend," Weidenfels explained, also adding, "We have made some course corrections, but we are in business to create content and tell fascinating stories, and we will fund that."
Weidenfels also spoke about Warner Bros. Discovery's plans for its major franchises, citing both the DC universe and the Harry Potter Wizarding World universe as priorities.
"I think there are a couple of clear priorities. DC stands out," Weidenfels said, alluding to the search for someone to lead the comic book brand's empire. "As you know David is still looking for someone to lead that specifically. Wizarding world of Harry Potter has huge potential if we can get it right … There is a lot in flight, but clearly if you look at it from a risk and reward perspective, leveraging some of those existing brands improves your return profile."
Batgirl was directed by Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi, with a script written by Christina Hodson. The film would've starred Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon / Batgirl, with JK Simmons reprising his role as Commissioner James Gordon, and Michael Keaton reprising his role as Bruce Wayne / Batman. Also joining the cast was Brendan Fraser as Firefly, Ivory Aquino as Alysia Yeoh, and Jacob Scipio, Rebecca Front, Corey Johnson, and Ethan Kai cast in currently-unknown roles.
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