David Zaslav Gunnar Wiedenfels show Entertainment Strategy David Zaslav Gunnar Wiedenfels

‘Batgirl’ Shelving Was “Blown Out Of Proportion” By Press, Warner Bros Discovery CFO Says: “Media Likes To Talk About Media”

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The surprising decision last month to shelve completed DC movie Batgirl was “blown out of proportion” by the press, according to Warner Bros Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels.Speaking at the Bank of America Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, the exec acknowledged the intense scrutiny on the new regime since the completion in April of the $43 billion merger.

Asked whether the company’s reputation in the talent community and agency business had taken a hit based on Batgirl and a number of other cancellations of HBO Max shows, he said it had not. “Media likes to talk about media, I guess,” he observed.Moderator Jessica Reif Erlich, a BofA analyst who is a noted bull on WBD shares, said the Batgirl move seemed to her like a “prudent business decision.” She asked if it represented a reset of the strategy for DC and Wiedenfels replied, “No. … There’s a new team coming in, forming a view, providing a financial framework to assess these things.” He added, “The focus is, on a go-forward basis here, we’re spending more than ever in the history of the two legacy companies on content.

We will continue to make significant investments. We’ll make them differently and with a different financial rigor and a different focus on full utilization across all platforms, etc., but this is the lifeblood of the company and we’ll continue to be investing in it.”Critics of the Batgirl move, including but not limited to the creative team behind it, noted the awkward optics of ditching a film starring a Latina actress (Leslie Grace) in the lead role.

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