It has emerged the Hollywood movie, the first to be filmed entirely in Glasgow, has been dropped due to poor screen-testing results despite £58 million being spent.
The shock decision has also led to more questions over the future of The Flash, another Warner Bros film shot partly in Glasgow which has yet to be released.
Glasgow City Council agreed in September last year to give a grant to Warner Bros to support filming the entire Batgirl production in the city, and claimed the incentive would bring millions of pounds to the city’s economy.
It is understood the council is confident of attracting future films and TV shows to the city despite the blow, as the decision isn’t related to the location. It also hopes to maintain a relationship with Warner Bros.
Asked what the decision would mean for the £150,000 incentive, a council spokesman said the support has “not been paid” and “discussions continue with producers”.
The council previously said the grant would provide opportunities for locally based talent and crew, see the use of local production facilities, services and studios and the use of office space. Providing opportunities for Glasgow residents and firms is a condition of the support, the council added at the time.
Following Warner Bros’ decision, the spokesman said: “The filming of Batgirl brought a very significant economic benefit to Glasgow when the production was here, with 450 Glasgow-based crew jobs, almost 1300 Scottish supporting artists, and many subcontractors working as tradespeople and in traffic management and security.
“Any decision on the releases of the production is very much a matter for Warner Bros.”
Directed by Adil Arbi and Bilall Fallah and starring Leslie Grace, Michael Keaton and Brendan Fraster, Batgirl was shot in Glasgow from January to April, with the city transformed into Gotham and road closures and restrictions put in place.
The New York Post, which revealed the film had been shelved, reported the decision had been made following a change of leadership since Warner Bros merged with Discovery.
It has been claimed new CEO, David Zaslav, is prioritising cost-cutting and theatrical films over streaming projects, with Batgirl initially planned for streaming service HBO Max.
That has prompted further speculation about the future release of The Flash, which had already been in doubt after star Ezra Miller was arrested on two different occasions over harassment accusations. Michael Keaton was set to return as Batman in both The Flash and Batgirl.
A Warner Bros spokesperson told the BBC the Batgirl decision “reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max”.
Responding to the news on social media, council leader Susan Aitken said it was “obviously disappointing” that “Hollywood corporate shifts mean we won’t get to see Glasgow on the big screen in Batgirl”. “The new Indiana Jones will have to suffice,” she added.
The council leader went on to say the production created over 1,000 local jobs for crew, tradespeople and extras and “no public money has been paid to Warner Bros”. “The city did make direct income from the production in e.g parking charges.
“Wider economic benefits to local supply chain and other businesses like hospitality aren’t fully quantified yet but they were very significant.”
Cllr Aitken added the location “has nothing to do with it being pulled” “Glasgow still got all the benefits of the production, other movies will still be made and filmmakers will still come to Glasgow — not least because our gorgeous city looks amazing on film.”