Warner Bros. is considering a big overhaul to its HBO Max release 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 writer details an alleged debate currently taking place at Warner Bros. on whether he should scrap his plans to release his mid-sized superhero movies straight to HBO Max and give them the same theatrical window that The Batman was afforded.
According to Belloni, the upcoming 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 Warners team believe the time is right to pour a little more money into Batgirl, perhaps increase the visual effects, music budget and planned marketing spend, and give the film a release. in theaters first?”
Belloni sees the success of The Batman as one of the main reasons Warner Bros. plans to update its approach. “The Batman, admittedly the property of the company’s renowned superheroes, boasts huge numbers on [HBO] Max, I’m told, even after making $750 million in theaters in 45 days (or, maybe, because he made those numbers),” Belloni explains.
The cinemas are back, baby
Aside from The Batman’s huge box office receipts, 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 films. “Netflix’s big fix of 22 is causing Warners and all of Hollywood to rethink the ‘all-inclusive’ strategy for streaming,” Belloni says.
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 as CEO of WarnerMedia following the company’s recent merger with Discovery. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the new CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, wants to go in a different direction.
Of course, Batgirl’s proposed theatrical outing wouldn’t be the first time Warner Bros. changes its mind about one of its movies made for HBO Max – late last year, DC’s Blue Beetle, which stars Cobra Kai’s Xolo Maridueña, swapped its original stream slot for one released in theaters on August 18, 2023.
However, if there’s one big takeaway from this news, it’s that cinemas are finally starting to return to some semblance of normality with the easing of Covid-based restrictions around the world.
The Batman demonstrated how a movie can generate huge box office receipts and streaming numbers when released the right way, and we imagine the rest of Hollywood is seated to take notice.
Batgirl, which stars Leslie Grace in the title role, opposite JK Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, Michael Keaton as Batman and Brendan Fraser as Firefly, has yet to receive an official release date. although we expect it to arrive by the end of 2022.