Rising star Leslie Grace, the Bronx-born singer, songwriter, and actress, was poised for a major Hollywood breakout with her starring role in Batgirl, an adaptation of the famed DC Comics character.
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But just as Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah were working through the post-production process on the $90 million movie, producer and distributor Warner Bros. Discovery decided to shelve the film, meaning that it will not premiere on any of the studio’s platforms — neither theatrically nor on streamer HBO Max.
In Her Second Movie, Leslie Grace Stars as Batgirl
Batgirl is (was?) Grace’s second movie, following her turn in the critically acclaimed 2021 film version of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Broadway musical In The Heights.
From a leading role in the film adaptation of a Tony Award-winning musical to a titular star turn in an upcoming DC Comics movie, everything seemed to be perfectly in place for the talented 27-year-old performer, who was previously nominated for three Latin Grammy Awards for her work as a singer.
And then, her movie was canceled.
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Reportedly, Warner Bros. Discovery was dubious about a costly theatrical rollout for the $90 million, nearly finished film and equally unsure about a streaming release due to the crowded streaming landscape. Canceling any kind of release of the film and taking a tax write-down could be the best way to recoup costs, or so the powers that be may be thinking.
Leslie’s First Movie Was the Acclaimed Musical In The Heights
Hollywood was abuzz over the announcement, with studio insiders claiming that the decision to cancel Batgirl was not driven by the quality of the film or the commitment of its creative team, but rather the studio’s goal to create DC Comics features on a blockbuster scale. Initially budgeted at $75 million and unofficially slated for release on streamer HBO Max (the budget shot up to $90 due in part to Covid-related delays and protocols), Batgirl was never intended for a major global theatrical release, according to reports.
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Whatever the initial intentions for the film may have been, the decision for the cancellation appears to be primarily driven by business reasons rather than any creative or quality factors. A number of theories have been floated, and just as many criticisms leveled.
But through it all, Batgirl star Leslie Grace has been unswervingly true to her surname, reacting with dignity to the disappointing news of the film’s cancellation. Following the studio’s announcement, Leslie spoke via Instagram of her disappointment but remained positive as she called attention to the hard work and dedication that the film’s cast and crew put into the film over the course of its seven-month shoot in Scotland.
Leslie Posted Production Photos Following the Announcement
“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. 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!” she wrote.
She also shared photos and video from behind the scenes of the production, including one of a clearly weary Leslie in costume and make-up following what appears to have been the filming of an action scene. At this point in time, Leslie’s pics are some of the only images of the production the public has ever seen.
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Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, whose credits also include Bad Boys for Life and Disney+’s Ms. Marvel, released a statement on the same day, reflecting their own disappointment that the film was being shelved.
“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,” the statement read.
The filmmakers further acknowledged Batgirl’s “amazing cast and crew,” which includes J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser, and Michael Keaton, who reprised his role of Batman, which he last played in 1992’s Batman Returns. Most notably, they praised Leslie Grace for portraying Batgirl and her civilian counterpart Barbara Gordon “with so much passion, dedication and humanity.”
True to Her Name, Leslie Is Moving Forward With Grace
In another Instagram post that has since been removed, Leslie also uploaded a meaningful Batgirl comics panel that finds the superheroine smashing the bad guys as she thinks to herself, “I have to find another path. Divine my own future. One uniquely mine. Not a page from someone else’s book. Not a fate that begins and ends on Page One.”
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The colorful panel is a clear declaration by Leslie Grace that though the studio may control Batgirl’s future and, indeed, the very existence, it is she alone who commands her own destiny.
Leslie’s actions illustrate how a respectful, positive response upon receiving disappointing or unwanted news in the professional arena is the best way to maintain a level of dignity and decorum.
This is particularly true when there are greater powers involved in the situation and factors that are beyond your control or influence. Such is frequently the case for any career professional—not just those involved in high-profile Hollywood projects. But just as there are bound to be troubles, mistakes, or even defeats along the way, learning and moving on from those pitfalls is the best and healthiest path to ultimate success.
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