Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav said he’s “very excited” about The Flash on Thursday, but people think it should be axed after lead actor Ezra Miller’s string of controversies.
The movie was set to star In The Heights actor Leslie Grace in the titular role, with the cast including J.K. Simmons and Michael Keaton.
All principal filming for Batgirl had been completed and people were flummoxed by the decision to shelve it at such a late stage.
The movie was being made especially for streaming service HBO Max, and sources told Variety: “The decision to axe Batgirl was not driven by the quality of the film or the commitment of the filmmakers, but by the desire for the studio’s slate of DC features to be at a blockbuster scale.”
However, the New York Post reported that Batgirl was actually being scrapped due to the negative reaction from test screenings. “[The screenings] were said to be so poorly received by moviegoers that the studio decided to cut its losses and run, for the sake of the brand’s future,” an insider alleged.
In addition to the $90 million loss from Batgirl, Warner Bros. also scrapped Scoob! A Holiday Haunt, the sequel to Scoob! that had already cost them a reported $40 million.
The company’s bold decision to axe movies after they’d already poured money into them got many wondering about the fate of upcoming DC Universe installment of The Flash.
Its future was up in the air for several months after its lead actor, Ezra Miller, was at the center of a series of allegations this year, including serious accusations of grooming and endangerment.
One person tweeted: “If they’re willing to set $130 million on fire to not release Batgirl or Scoob! Holiday Haunt, then WB have absolutely zero excuses not to scrap The Flash given the circumstances surrounding Ezra Miller. the amount of money spent on it cannot function as an excuse anymore.”
Ezra — who is nonbinary and uses they/ them pronouns — was arrested in Hawaii twice in as many months, and was also the subject of a restraining order at the start of the year.
They were first arrested on March 28 when they became agitated by a group of patrons in a Hawaii bar who were singing karaoke. Ezra was accused of shouting obscenities at the group and lunging at a man who was playing darts.
The actor was arrested and charged before being released on $500 bail. The following day, a local couple filed a temporary restraining order against Ezra after they alleged that the star had burst into their bedroom and threatened them.
In the police report, Ezra was accused of telling the man: “I will bury you and your slut wife.” Ezra was also said to have stolen the man’s wallet, which contained his bank cards, social security card, and driver’s license, and the woman’s passport.
In April, Ezra was arrested and taken into custody for second-degree assault after they were accused of throwing a chair at a 26-year-old woman, which struck her and left a half-inch cut. Ezra had reportedly become irate after being asked to leave a house party in Hawaii.
On June 7, Native American activist Chase Iron Eyes and his wife, Sara Jumping Eagle, filed an order of protection against Ezra Miller with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court after they’d become concerned about their 18-year-old child Tokata’s wellbeing.
Ezra and Tokata first met when Tokata was 12 years old and Ezra 23. They developed a close friendship, and Tokata has been traveling around the world with Ezra.
The order accused Ezra of “physically and emotionally abusing, psychologically manipulating, physically intimidating and endangering the safety and welfare of 18 year old Tokata Iron Eyes.”
Just weeks later, on June 29, the Daily Beast reported that a mother and her 12-year-old child were granted a temporary harassment prevention order against Ezra after they claimed the actor had behaved inappropriately towards the youngster.
Warner Bros. and DC executives were reported to have held emergency meetings in March to discuss Ezra’s future as the Flash, and apparently hit pause on any future projects with them for the time being.
They’d already filmed the character’s standalone film, The Flash, with Ezra in 2021, and it’s slated for release in June 2023.
But Batgirl’s fate suggests that Warner Bros. and DC aren’t too concerned about ditching projects, and its axing prompted speculation that The Flash could be next on the chopping board.
However, this is not the case, and during Warner Bros. Discovery’s Q2 earnings call on Thursday, CEO David Zaslav confirmed that the studio will be pushing forward with The Flash’s release.
Discussing The Flash, Black Adam, and Shazam! 2, Variety quoted Zaslav as saying: “We’ve seen them, we think they’re terrific, and we think we can make them even better.”
He added that he’s “very excited about them.”
A dedicated The Flash Twitter account also leaked an alleged DM from the movie’s producer, Barbara Muschietti, on Wednesday, where she confirmed that “all is good in Flash land.”
The decision has sparked serious backlash, especially after Batgirl was scrapped.
Taking to Twitter, one person wrote: “[Zaslav] said The Flash is a ‘great DC film coming up’ and refused to address Ezra Miller’s conduct?” The person added that it seemed “pretty controversial” that Batgirl had been axed but Ezra got to keep their role.
“The moral of the @hbomax and @discoveryplus merger is: they will still release a movie featuring a garbage human (Ezra Miller) but they will scrap the already-filmed Batgirl created by and starring BIPOC. David Zaslav + Co. should be ashamed,” another wrote.
“So WB won’t cancel The Flash despite all the shit Ezra Miller has done, but will cancel the Batgirl even though there’s been no controversy attached to it and it’s practically finished,” a third tweeted. “Are you fucking kidding me WB?!?!”
“The fact that they’re shelving Batgirl but still planning to release that The Flash movie and praying somehow no one has read a single Ezra Miller story online for the past two years is…a choice,” one more commented.
“The fact that Warner Bros is willing to axe Batgirl because they don’t think it’ll be popular enough yet will still release the Flash even after the litany of awful things Ezra Miller has done/has been accused of doing is downright sickening,” someone else tweeted.
While Batgirl did cost the studio millions, it was less than half of The Flash’s estimated budget of $200 million, making it a much more expensive sacrifice.
In addition, The Flash is set to be an important crossover movie, which will bring Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton’s respective Batmans together for the first time. It’s assumed that The Flash therefore plays a significant role in the future of DC’s movie slate.
Meanwhile, unlike the reports of Batgirl’s screenings, test audiences for The Flash are said to have enjoyed the movie, which is no doubt a key factor in Warner Bros.’s decision to go ahead with its release.
Ezra has not publicly commented on any of the allegations against them, and their representatives have not responded to requests for comment. However, in June a source told Variety that “Miller hopes to address the allegations at some point, but they have chosen to privately focus on their health and healing over the coming months.”