Along with Batgirl, the sequel to 2020’s streaming release Scoob!: Holiday Haunt was canceled by the Discovery regime now in power at Warner Bros.
This move comes despite the fact the film is virtually complete, and writer/producer Tony Cervone is devastated. “The movie is practically finished and turned out beautifully. I am beyond heartbroken,” he said via DiscussingFilm.
Producer/writer Tony Cervone responds to Warner Bros Discovery scrapping ‘SCOOB! HOLIDAY HAUNT’.
“The movie is practically finished and turned out beautifully. I am beyond heartbroken.” pic.twitter.com/PvaCKPNU5T
— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) August 3, 2022
Those in charge of Warner issued a statement obtained by Deadline, explaining their decision on Batgirl and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt. “The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” it begins.
“Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Batgirl and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future,” the explanation added.
WBD’s answer doesn’t clarify much except they want to give themselves cover and leave a door open to work with Grace, Cervone, and Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah someday.
In seeking a copacetic reason for the rampant axing of projects, Deadline’s coverage raises a salient point: WBD has inherited a lot of debt – about $3 billion worth – from the latest merger. Hence, the objective is to pare down that amount.
“In both cases, the filmmakers were told that it came down to a ‘purchase accounting’ maneuver available to Warner Bros Discovery because the company has changed hands, and also changed strategy from the previous regime,” the trade’s article says.
“This opportunity expires in mid-August, said sources, and it allows WBD to not have to carry the losses on its books at a time when the studio is trying to pare down $3 billion in debt across its divisions,” it adds.
It also says WBD is working on different deals with Grace, El Arbi, and Fallah because – as their statement contends – “this was not a reflection on their talent as much as the radical strategy shift.”
Said shift is away from the strategy of the former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar that dragged the entirety of WB’s 2021 slate to HBO Max with producers kicking and screaming, and aimed to make $70 million tentpoles for the streaming service out of DC IPs.
Ousted, Kilar still stands by this strategy but “Wall Street no longer is impressed by subscriber numbers as much as profits, as seen by the precipitous decline of Netflix’s stock value.”
New CEO David Zaslav clearly realizes this and so, “Rather than spend vast sums pumping up the budgets of each film to compete in theatrical marketplace, and then spend $80 million in global P&A, the studio felt that scrapping both movies was a better choice, when coupled with the purchase accounting maneuver,” Deadline claims.
They throw in a silver lining toward the end, conversely, but with the caveat that not all will benefit. “Sources don’t expect other films to get killed like this, because the accounting opportunity expires by the middle of this month,” their report said.
However, “as all of Warner Bros Discovery braces for Thursday’s quarterly earnings report and the layoffs that are sure to come, no one with a project made specifically for HBO Max or execs there can feel confident at the moment.”
The house cleaning will continue.