HBO Max Controversy: The reasons why HBO Max will continue to remove movies and television episodes from its service are becoming increasingly evident. Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns HBO Max, just canceled its $90 million superhero feature Batgirl, which was in post-production, as well as the Scooby Doo sequel Scoob! Holiday Haunt. The unexpected cancelation of both projects stunned Hollywood and fans anticipating each. It has become evident that the new leadership of WB Discovery (which merged this year) is implementing a new strategy that will result in further layoffs.
The announcement that WB Discovery had pulled six HBO Max original films from their streaming service has generated even more criticism. These include Seth Rogen’s American Pickle, Robert Zemeckis’ version of The Witches, Melissa McCarthy’s Superintelligence, Anne Hathaway’s Locked Down, the Sundance smash Charm City Kings, and Moonshot, which had been on the site for only a few months. The loss of these HBO Max exclusives was never publicly disclosed; Reddit users detected their absence.
According to recent reports, WB Discovery will remove even more movies and television programs from HBO Max in a move motivated primarily by financial considerations.
According to IndieWire
The aforementioned films are among a broader list of films and scripted shows that are being removed from HBO Max and Discovery+. Warner Bros. Discovery’s first quarterly financial report is scheduled on Thursday, and these measures appear to be in anticipation of that, as Warner Bros. Discovery officials prepare to “transform two SVOD (subscriber video-on-demand) businesses into one.”
This loss of material is due to amortization, which enables WB Discovery to remove the content from HBO Max and “offset taxable revenue elsewhere with its remaining cost balance.” With Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt, WB Discovery is deleting movies and programs that are not performing well on the service and may be eligible for a tax write-off.
In the case of these two films, the fact that they will be tax write-offs also implies that they cannot be sold or released in the future. The movies that are being removed from HBO Max can still be purchased or rented via third-party SVOD platforms. In addition, removing low-performing movies and television programs helps to prevent customers from being overwhelmed with content options.
Ultimately, these changes reflect a radical departure in Warner Bros. Discovery’s business approach, as the new leadership attempts to achieve $3 billion in cost reductions for the newly merged Discovery, Inc. and WarnerMedia.
WB Discovery is moving its content strategy away from an inflow of scripted streaming programming, which was a major priority of the old leadership, particularly in regards to HBO Max. Instead, the focus will be on theatrical releases. The WB Discovery earnings call is anticipated to offer more more information on the future of HBO Max before the end of the week.