The new Warner Bros. Discovery era has just kicked off, and in addition to looking at the shape of the entire DCEU, they are considering a theatrical release for the upcoming Batgirl film. At least, that’s the word from Matthew Belloni’s latest newsletter from Puck.
The film, – which stars Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon / Batgirl, J. K. Simmons as James Gordon, Brendan Frasier as Firefly and (according to rumors) Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne – is slated for release on HBO Max, but Belloni reports that the resurgence of interest in going to the movies has the studio reconsidering how to release the $70 million film. It’s also reconsidering the whole Streaming First mantra of former studio head Jason Kilar.
Kilar’s singular mission, as anyone who walked the lot with him knows, was to build up the streaming service to compete with Netflix, the north star of the entertainment industry, even if it meant shrinking—sorry, evolving—the century-old theatrical business. So debuting on HBO Max a mid-budget DC movie, one based on a known but untested character who already stars in a TV show, made perfect sense. But maybe, Toby Emmerich and his Warners team are thinking, now is the time to invest a bit more money into Batgirl, perhaps up the visual effects and the music budget and the planned marketing spend, and give the movie a theatrical run first?
The Batman was just released on HBO Max and is doing very well (as my Facebook feed attests) and The Fall of Netflix has everyone wondering if streaming is really the be all and end all of media – because the flatness of streaming first films has been noted everywhere.
And the passive, forgettable experience of the digital content farm is a huge problem for Netflix, which, above all else, is spending billions to create properties that people care about. It’s also a big advantage for movie theaters, and for the studios that may want to think twice about whether they put their movies there or not.
While movie going isn’t quite where it was pre Covid, folks seem to want to leave their homes for exciting wide screen superhero adventures. And the idea of Grace, Keaton, Simmons and Frasier rollicking around might be enough to get someone into a reclining seat at the local plex.
Batgirl itself is written by Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey) and directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for Life), and seems to be playing fast and furious with various levels of multiversal continuity – as the reported appearance of Keaton would suggest. There’s been a lot of speculation about who else will be in the movie – but so far a single image from Grace’s Instagram account is the only image we have to go on.
The fall of Netflix? Surely an exaggeration as far as my queue is concerned, I still have an impressive array of content to hack my way through, Ozark, Vikings Valhalla, Space Force, Human Resources, Green Eggs & Ham, Ultraman, Pacific Rim: The Black, etc and eagerly awaiting the arrivals of Sandman, the 2nd season of Sweet Tooth and the 3rd season of Love Sex & Robots (May 20). But I can understand the frustration of 200,000 people jumping ship when a show or two gets cancelled after a season or two. They need these shows to last beyond a slight wrong reported tick in the metrics that gets a show like Cowboy Bebop canceled after only a few weeks after it drops. They should’ve rolled those 10 episodes of CB out like they did with Disney+, HBO Max, and Amazon to give it time to be discovered and discussed at the water cooler ONE EPISODE AT A TIME. No more rolling out all ten episides all at once. When it comes to television matters, these streamers are now technically television networks and the binge model is dead and Netflix needs to come to terms with that.
Netflix has been in the news a lot — raising prices, adding commercials, subscriber numbers down. There are lots of streamers now — some are super-cheap with huge libraries (Disney+) and excellent content (Apple TV+). For WB Discovery, it makes sense to recoup Batgirl’s costs at the theater since it doesn’t appear to hurt streaming later.
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