In a 12-tweet open letter to Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Aquino appealed to the exec to release the film following reports that screenings are being held on the studio lot. On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter published a story detailing the secret screenings, which are being held for members of the movie’s cast and crew, as well as representatives and executives.
In the thread, the actress, who plays Alysia Yeoh, Batgirl aka Barbara Gordon’s roommate and the first major trans character to appear in a DC film, implored Zaslav to “consider releasing Batgirl.” While recounting a conversation with a friend, in which a film studio is likened to a machine, Aquino described a studio president as a “large cog” who, with one small movement, can have a “seismic” effect on the smaller cogs they sit atop.
“I can only endeavor to understand how one feels when tasked with tending to the bottom line like you have. I can’t even begin to imagine what one in your position goes through having such great responsibility to attend to,” she wrote. “I do know and ask, with something like Batgirl that’s a product of our hearts and souls, that the little cogs not simply be seen as widgets whose fates are determined by an equation to benefit the bottom line.”
“More than widgets, we are fellow human beings and artists who, when given the chance, can outperform the equation and multiply the bottom line exponentially,” she added.
Aquino went on to suggest that the response to the film being shelved may have spurred interest in it, leaving more people “eager” to see the cast and crew’s work: “If a month ago, there wasn’t a marketing budget for batgirl, I’d venture to say that that has been taken care of by the turn of events these past few weeks.”
In addressing the response to the film’s cancellation, she pushed back on the film’s inclusion and diversity being characterized as “woke” — instead calling it “more than anything” a father-daughter story that “reflects the world we live in.” She also detailed the personal impact the sudden decision to pull the movie has had on her, which has left her crying “from grief.”
Aquino added that she hasn’t spoken to her fellow castmates, save a single conversation with star Leslie Grace, since news broke earlier this month that the film would be scrapped. Talking to the cast, she said, would be “akin to rubbing salt on a still-open wound” on a project that is “a product of our hearts and souls.”
“I’ve found myself not being able to talk about this ordeal with anyone,” she wrote. “I realized that no one, apart from those involved with the film, would truly understand what we’re feeling.”
The DC film is among multiple projects, in various stages of production, that have been lifted by Warners Bros. Discovery in recent weeks to secure tax write-downs amid the newly merged company’s efforts to find $3 billion in cost savings. Batgirl’s $90 million price tag and the diversity of its leading cast have made it one of the more talked-about canceled projects.
The film stars Grace as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, with Michael Keaton returning as Batman, JK Simmons as Barbara’s father and Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon and Brendan Fraser as villain Firefly.
Following the news of the film’s cancellation, star Grace and directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah published statements expressing their sadness over the studio’s decision. In their first interview since the news broke, El Arbi and Fallah also revealed that they don’t have any footage of the film saved.
“The guys from Warners told us it was not a talent problem from our part or the actress, or even the quality of the movie,” said El Arbi. “They told us it was a strategic change. There was new management, and they wanted to save some money.”