Warner Bros. is considering a major shakeup of its HBO Max launch strategy for mid-budget DC movies, according to a new report from Puck News founding partner Matthew Belloni.
In the report, the former Hollywood Reporter screenwriter details an alleged debate going on at Warner Bros. right now regarding whether he should scrap plans to release his mid-sized superhero movies directly to HBO Max and give them the same theatrical window. than before given to Batman.
According to Belloni, the next Batgirl movie may be one of the first to benefit from the proposed change in strategy. “But maybe, [Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman] Toby Emmerich and his team at Warner are thinking, now is the time to put a little more money into Batgirl, maybe increase the visual effects and music budget and planned marketing spend, and give the movie a theatrical run first. “.
Belloni posits the success of The Batman as one of the main reasons Warner Bros. is thinking of updating its approach. “The Batman, certainly the company’s trademark superhero property, is putting up big numbers on [HBO] Max, I was told, even after generating $750 million in theaters over 45 days (or, perhaps, because it generated those numbers),” says Belloni.
The theaters are back, baby
In addition to The Batman’s huge box office take, Belloni thinks Netflix’s recent downturn may also have something to do with the studio’s reluctance to rely entirely on streaming numbers for its smaller DC movies. “Netflix’s Great 22 Correction is causing Warners and all of Hollywood to rethink the ‘all-in’ strategy for streaming,” says Belloni.
It’s also worth noting that the strategy of releasing smaller DC movies exclusively on HBO Max was the brainchild of Jason Kilar, who has now stepped down from his role as CEO of WarnerMedia following the company’s recent merger with Discovery. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that Warner Bros. Discovery’s new CEO, David Zaslav, wants to go in a different direction.
Of course, Batgirl’s proposed theatrical run wouldn’t be the first time Warner Bros. has changed its mind about one of its made-for-HBO Max movies: late last year, DC’s Blue Beetle movie, starring Cobra’s Xolo Maridueña. Kai, changed its original broadcast slot for a theatrical release on August 18, 2023.
However, if there’s one big takeaway from this news, it’s that movie theaters are finally starting to get back on track with the relaxation of Covid-based restrictions around the world.
Batman demonstrated how a movie can generate big box office profits and streaming numbers when released the right way, and we imagine the rest of Hollywood is sitting up to take notice.
Batgirl, which stars Leslie Grace in the title role, alongside JK Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, Michael Keaton as Batman, and Brendan Fraser as Firefly, has yet to receive an official release date, though we’re expecting it to arrive in late 2022.