In a 20th anniversary piece for “The Hollywood Reporter,” Schumacher wishes he’d listened to Goldsman’s concerns heading into production. “Akiva was very leery about Batman & Robin,” he said. “We had a couple of very serious discussions about it, and he was right about it in the long run.”
The primary source of concern early on was the telescoped production schedule. With that June 20, 1997 release date looming, there wasn’t time for trial and error in terms of cracking the story or anything really. As Schumacher remembered:
“Suddenly you’re carrying what’s called the tentpole movie of the year. Which means that’s going to carry all the other movies. So you are going to open whether you have something or not. Because those spots in the summer are so sought-after and so juggled around that you’ve got to piss on your ground or you’re not going to have dates in the summer. And then it’s like, ‘Oh my God, I’m opening. But now I have to make something to open with.'”
Their worries were confirmed when they test screened the movie in April. Two months out from release, there was little they could do to repair a movie people outright loathed … but they were unprepared for an upstart website called Ain’t It Cool News to break industry rules and run a savage pan of the unfinished cut that exhorted the film’s target audience to avoid the film like it was Three Mile Island. The studio — and, most humiliatingly, the film’s talent — now had to spend the next two months pretending they hadn’t made a turkey.