Don’t look for “Batgirl” to get released any time soon.
On the contrary, after he was installed as CEO following the merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery, he began moving the new company away from streaming and back towards movie theaters.
As part of this change, he has cut back, drastically, on the amount of films that Warner Bros. Discovery will make exclusively for the HBO Max streaming platform.
Zaslav Prefers Theatrical Releases
The thinking behind making films directly for HBO Max was that it was a way to help grow the subscriber base and add value and prestige to the platform. Where it gets murky, a bit, is that during the pandemic, several films that were meant to have a theatrical release, like “Mortal Kombat” and “Wonder Woman 1984” debuted on HBO Max, as a way to boost subscribers (and possibly, to generate good will on social media.)
But Zaslav has indicated he wants the revenue from theatrical releases, and is unconvinced about the value of direct to streaming titles.
In a recent earnings call, he doubled-down, saying that he and the service’s chief content officer Casey Bloys, found that releasing films as streaming exclusives did not provide any return on investment.
“We were able to see which content people are spending time watching, what content is really powerful to us in terms of reducing churn, and then there was a lot of content that just wasn’t being viewed,” Zaslav said. “And so we were able in many ways to Monday morning quarterback, and that’s what led us to the conclusion that direct-to-streaming movies were providing really no value to us.”
As part of this pivot, Zaslav famously shelved the almost completed “Batgirl,” film, as he felt it wasn’t’ strong enough to merit a theatrical release, even though Brendan Frasier played the villain Firefly, and these days everyone loves him. This move sparked fan outcry and accusations that Zaslav was leading the service and the HBO brand astray.
But Zaslav doesn’t seem moved by the comment section, so don’t look for “Batgirl” to hit HBO Max anytime soon. (We’re sorry, Brendan Frasier fans.)