Among the films canceled after Batgirl’s sudden shelving, it appears the Black Canary project starring Jurnee Smollett isn’t one of them.
A new report from TVLine indicates it is still in development at HBO Max after being announced last year. “a spokesperson for Warner Bros. Pictures confirms for TVLine that the Black Canary standalone movie that was first announced a year ago remains in development at the streamer,” says the coverage.
The feature is still likely to spin off from 2020’s pre-COVID flop Birds of Prey — an adventure headlined by the return of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn but without the perceived albatross of The Joker hanging from her pale neck.
Black Canary is set to reunite Smollett with a collaborator of hers, though neither Robbie nor Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan. Lovecraft Country developer Misha Green is writing the script with a director still waiting to be named.
Smollett starred in the short-lived Lovecraft series for HBO as the feisty but fetching Leti. Co-produced by J.J. Abrams, the show lasted only one season, and reports soon surfaced of a toxic work environment under Green’s guidance as a reason it got the axe.
The two also collaborated on the antebellum drama Underground in 2016 for WGN America — a network that is no longer in existence due to NexStar Broadcasting’s acquisition of WGN parent company Tribune Entertainment.
“Guess the Canary is out of the cage!” Smollett tweeted when news of Black Canary leaked at the time. “So excited to finally embark on this adventure with my creative soul sis @MishaGreen.”
Green tweeted back, “We’re just at the very beginning of a loooong journey to the screen, but obvs I couldn’t turn down the chance to put the DAMN in The Black Damn Canary with @jurneesmollett!”
Despite his rush to remove Batgirl from the equation for good, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav gave some indication of why he’s sparing Black Canary during an earnings call earlier this month.
He revealed he wants to protect the quality of the DC brand but is willing to give new characters a chance if they have the time to be done right. “We’re not going to launch your movie until it’s ready,” Zaslav explained.
“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,” he added. “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,” Zaslav continued. “But also, our job is to protect the DC brand, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Reception to Smollett’s Black Canary was so-so and, given Green’s alleged reputation on set as well, it’s surprising Zaslav is giving this one an opportunity to flourish.
There is no timetable for release or a start to production, though, so anything can happen.