“We’re not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it.”
David Zaslav, President and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, repeatedly stated that POV on Thursday afternoon, in the course of answering a post-earnings call question about the decision to shelve the nearly-complete Batgirl movie, which was originally developed for HBO Max and then eyed for a possible theatrical release.
“We have done a reset” when it comes to the release strategy behind movies of any kind, Zaslav said. As one part of that, “There will be a team with a 10-year plan focusing just on DC,” he said. “It’s very similar to the structure that Alan Horn and and Bob Iger put together effectively with [Marvel Studios chief] Kevin Feige at Disney.”
Having pored over “all the data,” Zaslav explained that “our conclusion is that with expensive direct-to-streaming movies — in terms of how people are consuming them on the platform, how often people buy a service for it, and how it gets nourished over time — there is no comparison to what happens when you launch a film in the theaters. So, this idea of expensive films going to streaming… we cannot find an economic case for it. And so we’re making a strategic shift. ”
Batgirl, as reported earlier this week, was largely done, save for the completion of some visual effects — and after seeing COVID-related delays inflate its budget from $70 million to reportedly north of $90 million. Originally developed as an HBO Max exclusive, Batgirl was later eyed to instead swoop into theaters.
But now, it won’t get a showcase of any kind. Instead, Warner Bros. Discovery will use the movie as a tax write-off, as the company labors to pay down billions in debt.
“We’re not going to launch your movie until it’s ready. We’re not going to launch a movie to make a quota. And we’re not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it,” Zaslav explained. “Particularly with DC, where we think we want to pivot and we want to elevate and we want to focus.”
“The objective is to grow the DC brand, to grow the DC characters,” he continued. “But also, our job is to protect the DC brand, and that’s what we’re going to do.”