Scrapped biopics and projects ignore the cast and crew’s hard work

By Riley Dauber

Opinion Editor           

On Jan. 24, the Madonna biopic, starring Julia Garner, was scrapped. Madonna was set to direct the project herself, and reportedly worked on a few different versions of the script, according to Variety.

Before Garner was cast, each actress up for the role took part in a gruesome “boot camp.”

Everyone from Florence Pugh to Bebe Rexha was considered for the role, but it was not until June 2022 that the public learned of Garner’s casting.

“The chance to star as one of music’s most legendary characters is too good an opportunity for most actors,” Jonny Walfisz wrote for Euronews.

Although Garner won Emmy and Golden Globe awards for “Ozark,” playing Madonna would have provided her with more opportunities and commercial recognition, as well as possible Academy Awards buzz.

It is unfair that many actresses, including Garner, went through so much training just for the project to be canceled.

The scrapped biopic is another recent example of projects that were either halfway through the production process or ready for release, just to be cut.

Streaming platform HBOMax is the main culprit; a merger with Discovery+ in April 2022 led to the cancellation of many of their original, scripted content.

According to Time, “Several months later, major projects started to get the axe.”

Many fans criticized this decision, specifically when it came to the upcoming “Batgirl” film. Leslie Grace was cast in the titular role, and currently has only one other credit to her name: the 2021 film “In The Heights.”

Releasing the “Batgirl” film would have  helped a newcomer like Grace continue a successful career in Hollywood. It is disappointing from the cast and crew’s perspective to find that the project was cut, especially so close to the release date.

They spent time on the project, and to have it trashed before the public can even view it means all that hard work was for nothing.

Unfortunately, HBOMax’s decision to cut many of their current or future projects comes down to money.

According to Time, “Although movies like ‘Batgirl…’ had wrapped filming, implying a great deal of sunk costs, scrapping them could provide an avenue for cost-cutting in two ways: first, they could be considered tax write-offs, and second, refraining from completing and releasing them could save money on residuals paid to actors and creators whose content lives on the platform.”

Other than costs, new CEO David Zaslav plans to focus on “theatrical films” instead of streaming. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Insiders say that big-budget films made directly for streaming no longer make financial sense under the company’s new strategy.”

This statement leaves one to wonder why the producers did not redirect and release the film in theaters instead of sending it to the streaming platform.

It would prevent the film’s cancellation, while also providing more opportunities to market the film with a wide theater release, therefore putting more eyes on the project and all the work Grace, the rest of the cast, and the crew put into the film.

‘Batgirl’ is not alone, however; HBOMax has also removed many of their original films and series, along with a string of cancellations.

For example, the original series “Minx” was removed from the streaming platform while the cast and crew were busy filming season two.

Fortunately for the cast and crew of “Minx,” the show was picked up by Starz, but recurring cancellations and disappearances mean viewers cannot watch films or shows that cast and crew members worked tirelessly on.

While fans may be disappointed to see their favorite films or shows removed from HBOMax, it is even more disheartening for the cast and crew who put their time and energy into the production process. These new projects could help boost an up-and-comer’s career, as well as induct new writers and directors into Hollywood. But if this pattern of cancellations continues, cast and crew may never see their hard work pay off.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo Caption: Actress Julia Garner, famous for her Emmy and Golden Globe winning role in “Ozark,” was cast as Madonna in the upcoming biopic before the project was scrapped.

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