HBO Max has been all over the news for the past week. And NOT necessarily in the good way. With each day, it seems we learn about more and more projects that are both scraped and disappearing from their platform. But it actually dates back further than the last week.
It started with the announcement of the HBO Max and Discovery+ merger earlier this year. Slowly but surely, we started seeing some casualties of that merger hitting other Warner properties. One instance was the TBS series Chad, which was pulled literally hours before it was set to premiere.
This week, however, we noticed things started going down at HBO Max. It started with Batgirl, which was literally nearly finished and almost ready for consumption, early this week, we learned that the film was entirely shelved. It was followed by the Scooby Doo sequel Scoob! Holiday Haunt and the House Party reboot that was slated to hit the platform on July 28th.
Then cut to Wednesday, when HBO Max quietly removed 6 of their original movies from the platform. Those movies include An American Pickle, Moonshot, Superintelligence, The Witches remake, Locked Down and Charm City Kings. They can all be found available to purchase on other platforms, despite being HBO Max originals. But it is a pretty rare move for a streamer to be removing their own content without warning.
So this begs the question, what is the reasoning behind all of this?
It seems like there’s a few different factors. The most common of which is a regime change. The filmmakers behind Batgirl wrote the move off as simply “purchase accounting,” which would have come as a result of things changing hands. According to Deadline, ”this opportunity expires in mid-August, said sources, and it allows WBD to not have to carry the losses on its books at a time when the studio is trying to pare down $3 billion in debt across its divisions.”
David Zaslav, the big boss over at Warner Brothers Discovery, has basically rejected the maneuver that was brought forth by his recently departing predecessor. Since the streamer launched during the pandemic, a big tentpole has been movies that have simultaneously been released in theaters and also on HBO Max. While this served fine during a time when people weren’t going to the movies, Zaslav seems to want to move away from using big blockbusters to help sell subscriptions.
HBO Max also released a statement saying it was not a result of the performances in Batgirl itself that causes them to shelve the movie, as was the initial internet rumor floating about. They also dismissed the idea that it had anything to do with the star, Leslie Grace.
“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max. Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.”
Additional news broke yesterday that HBO Max will be shelved entirely next year, as well Discovery+, in favor of a brand new streaming service. This was announced by Zaslav on an earnings call, who said it will be launched in the summer of 2023. Until then, HBO Max and Discovery+ will share content.
So like anything else in life, it just all comes down to money. And as for all the content? They’ll all be used as a tax write-off, and we’re pretty certain that none of the unaired content will see the light of day. But if we ever do, it’s all but guaranteed that it will be in a theatrical setting, and not on HBO Max.
As for the next move, only time will tell. Guess we’ll just have to keep watching. That is until, of course, what we’re watching is removed from HBO Max.