Warner Bros. Discovery quietly eliminated content from HBO Max – including several Warner Bros. films. streamed exclusively on the service — in what appears to be an effort to cut costs.
In recent weeks, at least six Warner Bros. removed from HBO Max: “Moonshot,” a sci-fi romantic comedy starring Lana Condor and Cole Sprouse; dystopian artificial intelligence comedy “Superintelligence,” starring Melissa McCarthy; Robert Zemeckis’ 2020 remake of “The Witches,” starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci and Chris Rock; the comedy “An American Pickle,” starring Seth Rogen as an immigrant who wakes up after being pickled for 100 years; Doug Liman robs “Locked Down” pic with Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor; and the drama “Charm City Kings” from director Angel Manuel Soto.
All six films were labeled as “Max Originals”. The deletions were noted by users on Reddit during a discussion of Warner Bros.’ decision. to cancel release plans for “Batgirl” — in theaters, on HBO Max, or through any other platform.
Meanwhile, the reboot of the comedy classic “House Party,” from SpringHill by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, was previously scheduled to premiere July 28 on HBO Max, but has been removed from the release schedule.
Admittedly, streaming platforms are constantly adding and removing content. What is unusual is that Warner Bros. Discovery has not announced the removal of the six WB streaming exclusives from HBO Max. (The films are available to rent or buy through third-party VOD services.) It’s also worth noting that “Moonshot” was pulled from HBO Max only about three months after its March 31 debut.
HBO Max’s removal of Warner Bros. could be part of WBD’s decision to obtain streaming content payment obligations for underperforming titles in its books. In the case of an unreleased movie like the remake of “House Party,” the media conglomerate might count it as a tax cut, as it would with “Batgirl” and “Scoob: Holiday Haunt” (the latter of which was a sequel to the animation “Scoob!”).
Representatives of Warner Bros. Discovery did not respond to inquiries about HBO Max movie removals. The company is expected to release its second-quarter 2022 results Thursday, August 4, after market close. Warner Bros. Discovery took on a whopping $43 billion in debt as part of the deal with WarnerMedia; the combined company had a leverage ratio of approximately 4.6x after the transaction closed.
Like other streaming services, HBO Max releases monthly updates on added and removed titles – for example, it announced that the eight original “Harry Potter” films will be released from HBO Max in late August, while also adding a large bucket of content including 28 films from A24 such as “Room” and “Ex Machina”. But none of the original Warner Bros. purged from HBO Max has only been included in recent updates.
Currently, several Warner Bros. movie exclusives. for HBO Max are still in service. These include the 2022 remake of “Father of the Bride” starring Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan; “Let Them All Talk” by Steven Soderbergh with Meryl Streep and “Kimi” with Zoë Kravitz; and “The Fallout”, “No Sudden Move”, “Unpregnant”, and “8-Bit Christmas”.
In December 2021, before David Zaslav’s Discovery completed the WarnerMedia deal with AT&T, WarnerMedia released a campaign touting major releases coming to HBO Max in 2022, including “House Party”, “Scoob: Holiday Haunt”, and “Moonshot”. . The campaign sizzle reel that was originally shared on YouTube has since been made private. You can still watch it on Twitter:
Today @HBOMax launched a new campaign showcasing the 2022 lineup, with highly anticipated original programming, @WBPictures films made exclusively for HBO Max, new content from @DCComics and Wizarding World franchises, blockbuster movies, and more: https://t.co/DoS8nv519e pic.twitter.com/bsfy6oOZUQ
— Inside HBO Max (@InsideHBOMax) December 22, 2021
Pictured above: Cole Sprouse and Lana Condor in “Moonshot”