Warner Bros. Discovery has left a noticeable, infamous mark in the entertainment industry. Ever since the company was formed from a merger in 2022, I cannot recall a month in which I did not read news of a film or television show under the company being canceled or pulled from release.
It is a practice that is becoming more prevalent as streaming takes over the reigns of the film and television landscape. A practice that is also becoming anti-art.
The earliest instance of this phenomenon happened in August 2022 when it was announced that the Leslie Grace-led “Batgirl” film would be pulled from its release schedule. The film was set to release later that year on the HBO Max streaming service, so the sudden news came as a shock to its cast, crew and fans.
“Batgirl” was easily my most-anticipated movie of 2022, as I had grown fascinated by the character due to the “Harley Quinn” and “Titans” television series. The film could have been a pleasant addition to HBO Max’s streaming catalog and surprised audiences, despite the film’s poor test screenings. Brendan Fraser’s inclusion in the film could have skyrocketed his cultural renaissance even further, due to the release of both “Batgirl” and “The Whale.”
A Hollywood source said Warner Bros. Discovery believed “an unspeakable ‘Batgirl’ is going to be irredeemable.” It is hard to judge whether the poor quality claim has some validity, considering the film was pulled from its release and the poor reception of similar superhero films from DC since. Yet, the film is not the only victim of Warner Bros. Discovery’s efforts in cost-cutting, quality control and the apparent shift away from direct-to-streaming movies.
On the same day as the cancellation of “Batgirl,” outlets also reported on the sudden cancellation of “Scoob! Holiday Haunt,” a sequel to the 2020 animated film “Scoob!” The film was in a similar, nearly-finished state to “Batgirl” but became another tax write-off for the company as it shifted to theatrical releases.
Shows like “Gordita Chronicles” were canceled, and others like “Minx” were not renewed, despite almost completing the filming of its latest season. Warner Bros. Discovery also went on numerous sprees of removing content from the former HBO Max platform, some of which were Max originals or closely associated with brands such as Cartoon Network.
It seems like Warner Bros. Discovery is more receptive to the audience after canceling films that are near completion. Earlier this month, it was reported that the live-action and animated combination comedy film “Coyote vs. Acme” would be shelved. The news came as another surprise for many because cancellations similar to “Batgirl” were unprecedented and one-off casualties of the company merger.
Although the “Coyote vs. Acme” decision has been reversed, the continued decision to cancel and remove projects of this caliber presents an issue for consumers and filmmakers. With the precedent set, it can be more daunting to make a project if there is a risk of it being shelved for a tax write-off. The decision also neglects the artistry of its cast, crew and creators, never allowing them to fully share their project with the world for the audience and critics to be the judge of its quality.
Now that the dust has settled, Warner Bros. Discovery seems to have started down a new path by committing to projects it sees value in. While the road to get here has been tricky, hopefully, the new outlook of the company builds a much-needed trust in a company adored by many.
Trey Barrett is a graduate student studying film at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Trey know by emailing him at email@example.com.