Reportedly, Warner Bros. is considering making significant changes to its HBO Max release strategy for mid-budget DC films. According to new reports, WarnerMedia is considering moving Batgirl from HBO Max to the big screen. The move, which would be a strategic departure from former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar’s vision, is being considered as part of the Warner Bros. Discovery merger. Since HBO Max was Kilar’s top focus, incoming CEO David Zaslav may be more receptive to such a shift. In the aftermath of Netflix’s massive stock losses and a relatively slight dip in members last quarter, Puck writes that Warner Bros. and other studios may be reconsidering their larger streaming ambitions.
The news is owing in part to the recent Warner Bros. and Discovery merger, as well as the recent success of certain superhero flicks in theatres, according to Puck’s Matthew Belloni. The Batman’s great box office performance — more than $750 million in theatres and critical acclaim — is particu larly mentioned in the report as a possible cause for Batgirl switching over. The story goes on to say that Netflix’s recent problems could be a reason why Warner Bros. is reconsidering its “all-in” streaming strategy. With Netflix’s subscriber numbers dropping for the first time in over a decade, Belloni suggests that new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav may be reconsidering the company’s initial strategy of delivering all of its content to streaming services.
Bringing Batgirl to the big screen might also help assuage accusations that Warner Bros. is planning to send characters like Batgirl and Blue Beetle to HBO Max while The Flash and Batman get big screen adaptations. There’s also the practical consideration, in addition to the real-world optics issue of characters of colour being treated as second-class citizens in the eyes of the viewer. Characters with less global recognition can benefit from a theatrical release, potentially resulting in something greater than the sum of its parts for WBD, such as Marvel.
Discovery executives made it clear early on that they would not be investing as heavily in HBo as their predecessors had. That’s a hazardous tactic. A plan like this would take use of streaming popularity and accessibility to promote films.