Peter Safran Says That Batgirl "Was Not Releasable"

When Batgirl was shelved back in August, we were told it was for tax purposes, but now Peter Safran is saying that the film "was not releasable."

Ever since it was announced back in August that DC Studios would be shelving Batgirl and several other projects for [what we were told at the time] tax purposes. To say that the response to that decision was bad would be an understatement, and it left James Gunn and Peter Safran, in kind of a weird place when they stepped into the Co-Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer roles at DC Studios months later. They have no hand in the Batgirl decision, but people were going to ask them about it and see if there was a way for them to reverse it. Since the announcement that Gunn and Safran were working on a new slate of DC films and shows, people have been asking about all the projects in varying levels of development. Even though there is no way for Batgirl to be released [if Warner Bros. Discovery makes a profit from Batgirl or any of the projects part of that tax break, they have to return that money], Safran was still asked by Variety if he had any comment on the film. His response was interesting for several reasons that we will get into.

"Batgirl's a character that inevitably we will include in our story," he said. "On the Batgirl front, it's not about late in the process of the film getting canceled. I saw the movie, and there are a lot of incredibly talented people in front of and behind the camera on that film. But that film was not releasable, and it happens sometimes. That film was not releasable. I actually think that [president and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery David] Zaslav and the team made a very bold and courageous decision to cancel it because it would have hurt DC. It would have hurt those people involved."

Batgirl Concept Art from DC FanDome. © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

"I think that they really stood up to support DC," he continued. "The characters, the story, the quality of all of that. I spoke to Adil [El Arbi] and Bilall [Fallah] — the directors — last week, we were chatting. We'd love to be in business with all those folks. Christina Hodson wrote it. Some people are already back in business with us. As I said, a lot of talented people were involved, but the film just was not releasable. It would not have been able to compete in the theatrical marketplace; it was built for the small screen. So, again, I think it was not an easy decision, but they made the right decision by shelving it."

There are a couple of reasons why this response to Batgirl is interesting. First of all, while there have been rumblings about it from various sources, this is the first time a direct source has come out and said the film was terrible on a fundamental level to a major trade without being called an unnamed source. Several trades reported, at the time, that the cancelation didn't have anything to do with quality but was purely a cost-cutting move. The other interesting thing is that, as we previously stated, Safran and Gunn had nothing to do with this. All of this happened in August, two months before their new roles were announced. Safran's comments reaffirming that it was the right decision is very much a "take one for the team" and falling on the sword for the greater good situation. That is something that many producers and studio heads have to do, but they don't usually end up doing it for decisions that have nothing to do with them.

Gunn and Safran are coming into DC Studios in the wake of situations like the Batgirl cancelation, the absolute mess that was Black Adam and that post-credits scene, and a ton of other baggage. It's clear that everyone wants to start on as clean of a slate as possible, but the bad decisions of the previous regime aren't going away anytime soon. We can hope it doesn't impact Gunn and Safran's long-term goals.

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Kaitlyn BoothAbout Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Film critic and pop culture writer since 2013. Ace. Leftist. Nerd. Feminist. Writer. Replicant Translator. Cinephillic Virtue Signaler. She/Her. UFCA/GALECA Member. 🍅 Approved. Follow her on Twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on Instagram.
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