David Zaslov, Forget Your Tax Break – Just Release BATGIRL!

“Stark Raving Fan” is a column about one man’s love for all things involving popular culture – television, movies, and all facets of pop culture from here to there. Of course, it’s not the kind of love that unites a group of people like a bunch of hippies. More like the kind of love someone has when they’ve blown a gasket and have something to say. After all, aren’t we all just driven mad by fanaticism sometimes?

Believe it or not, in my younger days, I was very much a huge DC superfan. I grew up in the era when DC was starting to really become something again. Tim Burton had gone and reinvented Batman. Then Bruce Timm upped the ante in creating the finest animated series ever in the comic book genre. Hell, I saw Batman Returns in theaters in 1992 when I was just 8 years old. *AND* I recited the dialogue after reading the 256-page book novelization.

Imagine my glee when Warner Brothers announced Michael Keaton returning to his iconic role in The Flash. Anyone claiming to see that movie for Ezra Miller’s iteration of the The Flash is flat-out lying to you. I mean, if you need a recap on his fall to shame, here’s a refresher course for you. But, moreover, Keaton was going to show up for several scenes in Batgirl, from directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. They were hot off Ms. Marvel and looking to excite audiences with a whole different property.

But on August 2nd, Warner Brothers Discovery cancelled the film in full, out of nowhere and leaving people stunned.

The reasons that are floating around out there are absolutely nonsensical, with people trying to sort out the rationale in Warner Brothers’ motive. Audiences would be more confused to see Michael Keaton instead of Ben Affleck as Batman? Barbara Gordon isn’t a Latina woman, so people would question her heritage? The movie was a festering pile of dung and WBD decided to douse the fire? For starters – anyone who defaults to Leslie Grace’s ethnic background needs to question why that even matters. (Her ethnicity doesn’t matter, and you can leave such prejudices in your bedroom.) But secondly, the film had test screenings and was just about in the can too!

More or less, Warner Brothers Discovery head honcho David Zaslov found himself a little loophole to save a few bucks. (Read – millions.) The studio is taking advantage of a “purchase accounting” maneuver available to them because of the changeover in ownership. WBD has a quarterly earnings call tomorrow and, well, let’s just say they wanted to take that deal now. Other heads will roll too, and there’s gonna be a huge gutting in an effort to trim the fat.

So, Zazlov wants to wash his hands clean and get his money back thanks to tax breaks and the desire to trim near $3 billion off the Warners books. Yep. Business. After all, projects like Batgirl were made by a different regime. You know, the same folks who put the studio’s entire 2021 theatrical slate onto HBO Max instead of theaters? But that was done to build the subscriber base. That ploy seemed to work too. I’m one of those who went, you want my money? Here, go and work the stage, girlfriend, here’s my money!

Oh, but the bullshit doesn’t end with cancelling titles. Warner Brothers Discovery is scrubbing MAX Original titles from HBO Max. Included in the culling are six titles that were made exclusive for the streamer. Now, look, I know content fluctuates, doesn’t matter which streamer we’re talking about. Licenses come and go like me popping Jolly Rancher’s from a candy jar when no one’s looking. But these are original movies made for HBO Max. Why the hell would they take down their own content? Netflix doesn’t! (Yet anyway.)

Warner Brothers themselves put out a press release to put to rest all of the rumors regarding the cancellation. I have to tell you all, the statement is riddled with such horseshit, the flies are flocking from across the fields and amassing over the stench;

“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max. Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Batgirl … and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.”

Right, I’m sure Business Daddy (to quote John Oliver) is letting you float that gesture of good will for all to see. If everyone’s so talented, then what’s the harm in just releasing the flick? The swirling rumors over a horrible test screening are already kyboshed. This isn’t just some direct-to-video production. This is a $75 million production that only ballooned to $90 million due to COVID-rated overages. Batgirl even boasts the likes of J.K. Simmons and Brendan Fraser. I just feel like Zaslov just wants DC to totally flounder, period.

Wannabe Bond villain and man who binge watches trashy reality television, David Zaslov.

What’s the thought here, Davey Boy? “Oh gee, don’t wanna lose purchase accounting trick, that’s millions of dollars. Tell you what, HBO, we’re just gonna cancel these movie projects – never you mind that they’re completed – and we’ll just get you back another time.” Not when you’re rumored to lay off 70% of your original programming staff on your quarterly call! I feel like this ignoramus is neck-and-neck with Walt Disney Company’s Bob Chapek as the most punchable face in all of Hollywood right now.

You know who loses here? The fans. The millions of subscribers. Casual movie-watching folk. Everyone. And what for exactly? Does the WBD Corporate Circus think the DCEU lacks stability and needs to be cancelled? The Snyderverse is dead (sorry Snyder cultists) and there’s still new projects like Aquaman 2 about to lens. Though, can someone explain why exactly we’re getting Ben Affleck back as Batman? What, so audiences aren’t confused? Please. We know a good Batman like Michael Keaton when we see him!

Zaslov, you can’t let movie fans stew because of others’ mistakes. What, we aren’t aware of the class-five shitstorms that both Amber Heard and Ezra Miller have caused? We aren’t sightless, and you shouldn’t assume we avoid the headlines. When Batgirl was announced, people were excited to see a more faithful adaptation of the character come to life. And from the guys who worked on Ms. Marvel no less! But nooooo, you’re gonna take that project and just chuck into the fault to save a few bucks. Okay, Scrooge McDuck.

I’ve bemused for years that Warner Brothers has been nothing but a joke for the last long while. Thanks to their “visionary leader” David Zaslov, he’s proving my point like a Merriam-Website Dictionary definition. Good work. And the blood bath hasn’t even started yet. We’ll see what that call has to say, but I got a bad feeling about this.

Now give us Batgirl already, or the fans will get very loud. And very fast.

The Bat, the Cat, and the Penguin: Batman Returns 25 Years Later
I know, Michael. I know. Warners makes me feel depressed too. Sons of bitches.