Batgirl’s Leslie Grace on the film being scrapped: The scenes were incredible

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We learned last summer that the Batgirl movie was completely scrapped by Warner Brothers Discovery. The studio said that screenings went terribly and that finishing the editing and releasing the movie would cause them to lose even more money than shelving it would. Apparently, the stars of the movie didn’t even find out that the movie was shelved from the studio. Actress Leslie Grace said she found out from the New York Post article. Leslie spoke to Variety about her thoughts on the film and its shelving for the first time since the news was announced.

When “Batgirl” completed its seven-month production in Scotland, star Leslie Grace received a wrap gift from Brendan Fraser, who played her nemesis, Firefly, in the DC movie — a gold necklace that included two charms, a little bell and a pair of dice.

“The card said a lot of really sweet things, but he basically said, ‘I give you this necklace because in this business you gotta have a little luck. So ring your bell and never stop,’” Grace says. “It was just like, Whoa. And after all this, it’s had so much meaning.”

“All this” is the August bombshell that Warner Bros. Discovery had decided to kill the film, co-directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. After the first disappointing test screenings, WBD executives chose to take a tax write-off instead of trying to complete work on the film, which had cost the debt-ridden studio $90 million, and would have cost many more millions to finish.

Grace says she had no idea the movie, originally set to stream on HBO Max, was shelved, until it was first reported by the New York Post.

“I found out like the rest of you,” she says. “And then my phone just started blowing up.”

Variety talked at length with the 28-year-old Grace. It’s the first time she’s opened up in such depth since learning of Batgirl’s fate.

On the DC studio head saying releasing the movie could have hurt the studio: They weren’t really specific on anything creative in terms of what they felt about the film and how it would’ve hurt DC creatively. But I’m a human being, and people have perceptions and people read things. And when words are expressed very lightly about work that people really dedicated a lot of time to — not just myself but the whole crew — I can understand how it could be frustrating.

On whether she thought the movie would work: I’m not going to lie to you. In every film, there are obstacles, and our film was nothing short of that. Half of the shoot was night shoots in Scotland, where it never stops raining. So there were obstacles, but at the end of the day, because of the incredible crew, nothing that ever got in the way of us delivering what we knew we wanted to deliver for this film. At least from what I was able to see.

On seeing a final cut of the film: That’s the one thing I asked for. I got to see the film as far as it got to; the film wasn’t complete by the time that it was tested. There were a bunch of scenes that weren’t even in there. They were at the beginning of the editing process, and they were cut off because of everything going on at the company. But the film that I got to see — the scenes that were there — was incredible. There was definitely potential for a good film, in my opinion. Maybe we’ll get to see clips of it later on.

[From Variety]

My first thought reading this was that Leslie is incredibly gracious — particularly when she’s like “I understand how it could be frustrating [that they said the movie would hurt DC creatively].” She obviously has to take the high road to protect her career, but what happened to her sucks and the way she found out sucks. By her account, she made a movie she felt good about and proud of, even seeing the filmed scenes that the studio deemed bad, so it sucks that it likely won’t see the light of day. It sounds like it was a tough shoot at times, so it begs the question, why didn’t the studio step in and make their changes sooner, when filming was still going on and it would have been likely easier to implement? Was this really just a casualty of the merger? This was incredibly poorly handled. I don’t know much about Leslie, but I hope her career doesn’t suffer from this. Unfortunately, it seems like it already has, with her new project cited in the Variety article being a podcast series.

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16 Responses to “Batgirl’s Leslie Grace on the film being scrapped: The scenes were incredible”

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  1. Noki says:

    How often does complete scrapping of films happen I wonder. Are they not giving too much power to a couple of test screenings?

    • Concern Fae says:

      It basically doesn’t, which is why this is so shocking. It might happen to an indie if the production company goes bankrupt, but not a studio film.

    • Frippery says:

      Not a lot but more than people think. Social media and the immediacy of involvement from fans throughout the filming process makes it harder to just quietly shelve a movie but it isn’t unheard of.

      Louie CK, James Franco and Johnny Depp all directed movies that have never been released. Jamie Foxx as well.

      There’s also Don’s Plum, which Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire sued over, China’s Empires of the Deep, Hippie Hippie Shake with Cillian Murphy…..

  2. A says:

    I feel so sorry for her. WB destroyed this poor girl’s career.

    • Vienne says:

      I doubt that! She’ll get another project and eventually be quite famous if she’s good. She’s very pretty and in great shape and good at PR. No one thinks she’s the reason the film didn’t come out

  3. BaronSamedi says:

    Absolutely disgraceful how the cancellation was handled. Like they couldn’t have emailed the team?

    I’m ambivalent about the rest though. I mean nobody is ‘owed’ distribution of their movie. And there have been films that HAVE killed entire movie studios upon release because nobody stopped the train from moving.

    What is she going to say? That her movie sucked, the directors were bad and Warner were right to cancel it. Of course she is going to protect her work and be gracious about it. I guess the movie didn’t fit with the new regime and judging by the movies that came before I’m willing to buy that this one wasn’t all that either.

    • Concern Fae says:

      But the answer there is to simply let the film go straight to streaming. The issue here is that Warners figured out a tax loophole which means they make more money by filming and then killing a project than they would finishing and releasing it.

      It’s a problem because it’s essentially cheating on the taxes. Write offs are intended for genuine failures, not invented ones. It’s also cheating the people who worked on the film because payment for things like the script are often in lump sums on dates like first day of shooting and when the film is released. Also there are bonuses based on box office in many contracts.

      It’s terrible behavior all around, but there are so few studios that it may not hurt them too much bb

      • Rnot says:

        Like The Producers?

      • Robert Phillips says:

        How can the actual vidoes look great, when they can’t even release a good photo? Look at all the photos that have come out. Do any of them look like something a great or even good movie would look like. No They look like the 60’s tv show. Which isn’t what DC has been trying to go for. The costume looks like something from comic-con and the lighting isn’t doing anyone a favor. So yeah releasing it would have hurt DC trying to rebrand. But I think anything DC releases will do that also. They need to forget about all the world making and just write a good script and film one good movie. Then try to make another good movie. If they can’t do that then what does it matter if they are all connected or not.

  4. CrazyHeCallsMe says:

    The new guy in charge of Warner/Discovery is on a cost cutting tear and anything that doesn’t fit into his narrow view of what will make money is on the chopping block. A lot of BIPOC media has been axed thus far. Rumor is this new guy leans conservative. I’ve read that Batgirl wasn’t as bad as the studio claimed and was shelved just to get a tax write off. But of course, in spite of all of Ezra Miller’s antics, the studio is doing everything to make sure The Flash is a hit.

    • Deering24 says:

      Yeah, given how the studio has no problem pushing “The Flash,” I’d bet Batgirl was 1) at least decent; 3) expendable as far as the new W/D head goes.

  5. Ceej says:

    I hope Brendan wins an Oscar and the positive buzz is enough that someone un shelves this to go to Netflix or Amazon so we can see it. Imagine all the things she might have to pass up in order to film this/be available to market and post-prod only for them to scrap it. It’s a double career hit when it’s also the film you’d expect to help launch your profile to make it worth saying no.

    Interesting to see the cost cutting approach you’d expect in the corporate world has reached hollywood though

    • Robert Phillips says:

      They already took the tax write off. If they unshelve it the IRS will come after them. So it’s dead.

  6. Chantal says:

    Seems like DC’s problems have been exacerbated with this merger. The bs surrounding the scrapping of this movie is a bad look in every way. Also, cutting famous stars from their popular franchises in order to reboot with less expensive talent will definitely hurt the studio and DC, who continues to have major casting problems with their recent movie franchises/reboots, with Jason Momoa and Henry Catholic being notable exceptions. I would love to see Michael Keaton as Batman but refuse to show any support for Ezra Miller.

    • Robert Phillips says:

      Warners will probably sell off DC in a few years. So all this talk Gunn is doing is for nothing. Unless the first thing he does makes Billions it’s over.

  7. Nicegirl says:

    Incredible smile & attitude