A gargantuan media merger has taken place between Warner Bros. and Discovery, which has sparked some controversial strategy decisions. David Zaslav, CEO of the newly coined Warner Bros. Discovery corporation, addressed the company’s decision to scrap the already-produced movie Batgirl—leading audiences to point out a significant discrepancy.
Warner Bros. Discovery’s ‘Strategic Shift’
Warner Bros. and Discovery, two huge media companies, completed a merger in the spring of 2021. This change hasn’t affected viewers in any notable way until now. Last week, it was announced that HBO Max will be merging with Discovery+ to create a new streamer, the name of which has yet to be announced.
With this already puzzling decision came another blow: two of the company’s direct-to-stream films, Scoob! Holiday Haunt and Batgirl will no longer be released at all.
During the company’s Q2 earnings call, CEO David Zaslav remarked: “We’re not going to launch a movie to make a quarter and we’re not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it.”
“These are brands that are known everywhere in the world, and as part of that, we’re going to focus on quality. DC is something that we think we could make better and we’re focused on it now.”
While Zaslav begins his explanation with a focus on wanting to release high-quality content rather than simply making a buck, his tune seems to change a bit as he continues.
“This idea of expensive films going direct to streaming—we can’t find an economic case for it, we can’t find an economic value to it, so we’re making a strategic shift.”
Zaslav rounds out his statement by ensuring that the company is “committed to being disciplined about a framework that guides our comfortable investment for maximum return.”
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
From Zaslav’s somewhat contradictory statement, it’s difficult to glean if the choice to scrap Batgirl has more to do with production value or financial return. But actions speak louder than words, so the company’s interests become a bit clearer with the knowledge of its subsequent announcement.
During the same call, Zaslov confirmed that The Flash would be moving forward with post-production and release, despite star Ezra Miller’s many disturbing scandals over the past two years.
Miller has been the subject of much controversy since a video of them choking a woman in Iceland surfaced. Their violent behavior has continued and led to multiple charges of assault and disorderly conduct as well as protective orders and allegations of kidnapping.
Regardless of Miller’s highly unsettling and illegal behavior, they will keep their leading role in The Flash, which is expected to release in 2023.
“We have seen The Flash, Black Adam, and Shazam 2,” Zaslav said. “We are very excited about them. We’ve seen them. We think they are terrific, and we think we can make them even better.”
Why It’s Problematic
These decisions, both on their own and in spite of each other, have caused understandable backlash and even outrage from the public. Many see it as hypocritical that Zaslav claims to be canning Batgirl in the interest of DC’s reputation when keeping Miller as one of the faces of the brand will only serve to tarnish it.
In addition to this hypocrisy, Zaslov insisted that the decision to scrap Batgirl had nothing to do with money, but then went on to cite the lack of an “economic case” for its release as well as a commitment to “maximum return.”
Of course, Warner Bros. Discovery is a corporation, and so it follows that money would be of primary concern for them. However, scrapping a $90 million film in the interest of saving money is a bit counterintuitive.
This is even more so the case when you consider its decision to keep a figure surrounded by so many allegations of extreme violence at the forefront of its brand moving forward.