Culture

Batgirl star Leslie Grace thanks fans for ‘love and belief’ following film’s cancellation

Leslie Grace, the star of Warner Bros’ Batgirl film, has spoken out following the studio’s decision to cancel the release of the movie across all platforms.

“Querida familia! On the heels of the recent news about our movie Batgirl, I am proud of the love, hard work and intention all of our incredible cast and tireless crew put into this film over 7 months in Scotland,” Grace wrote on Instagram.

“I feel blessed to have worked among absolute greats and forged relationships for a lifetime in the process! To every Batgirl fan – THANK YOU for the love and belief, allowing me to take on the cape and become, as Babs said best, ‘my own damn hero!’ Batgirl for life!”

Grace, 27, rose to fame in the big-screen adaptation of In the Heights and would have been a rare Latina actor to headline a superhero film.

Grace accompanied her post with a behind-the-scenes video from the film, showing her singing along to I Will Always Love You while getting into costume.

The surprise decision by Warner Bros was made on 2 August, when the studio said the film, which had a $90m budget, would not be seen either in cinemas or on its HBO Max streaming partnership.

Speculation that the film’s quality was the determining factor behind the call not to let anyone see it has been questioned by some. Some have alleged the reasoning rests on the tax write-off from burying the film outweighing potential profits from releasing it, particularly given the heavy marketing spend required for promotion.

Some have also suggested that the studio was unhappy with the scope of the film, which had been conceived for HBO Max, rather than matching its recent blockbusters.

On Wednesday, Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah said they were “saddened and shocked” by the news.

“We still can’t believe it,” wrote the pair, whose previous credits include Bad Boys for Life. “As directors, it is critical that our work be shown to audiences, and while the film was far from finished, we wish that fans all over the world would have had the opportunity to see and embrace the final film themselves. Maybe one day they will insha’Allah.”

As recently as April, Grace had told Variety that discussions were already under way about a Batgirl sequel.

“There’s crazy stunts, crazy drops,” Grace added. “She’s a biker chick, so you’re going to see her do a bunch of badassery … There were a lot of long days, but it was so worth it.”

The film, which co-stars Brendan Fraser and JK Simmons, was entirely shot in Glasgow, whose city council had agreed to give Warner Bros a £150,000 “filming incentive grant” for choosing the location.

Council leader Susan Aitken defended its involvement on Twitter, writing that “the production created well over 1,000 local jobs for crew, tradespeople and extras”.

She added: “No public money has been paid to Warner Bros, but the city did make direct income from the production in eg parking charges. Wider economic benefits to local supply chain and other businesses such as hospitality aren’t fully quantified yet, but they were very significant.”

Some local business owners have expressed their frustration that the considerable disruption the production caused while shooting was in vain.

Robert Chambers of the Social Recluse clothing shop told the BBC that the £1,000 compensation he received for having to close for 10 days was inadequate.

“Usually we have a busy January but that month we couldn’t even get our online orders picked up by Royal Mail because the street was closed,” he said.

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