The turmoil at HBO Max sent shockwaves throughout the industry this week, and Hollywood creatives are going public with their anger about how Warner Bros. Discovery manages the content.
Uncertainty and dismay swirled when news broke that WBD was killing off the nearly completed DC movie “Batgirl,” which was set to debut on HBO Max. The parent company has also quietly pulled a number of HBO Max original films from the streaming service, and TheWrap reported Wednesday that CEO David Zaslav is set to announce a major restructuring of HBO Max and Discovery+ that will see HBO Max gutted, significant layoffs for its executives and staff to minimize redundancies with HBO and a combined streaming service with Discovery+ with a tighter separation between scripted and unscripted content operations.
“Streamers have been selling us creations on the virtues of platform exclusivity for some time now,” said C. Robert Cargill, co-writer of “Doctor Strange” and “The Black Phone.” on Twitter. “The reason Hollywood is so shaken by the HBO Max stories is that no one knows if this is an isolated incident or a canary in the coal mine. It’s not just about some movies.
Carina Adly MacKenzie, writer and producer of “Roswell, New Mexico” and “The Originals” added“We’re here worrying about the HBO Max shows we already love, but so many people are about to have their years of hard development work thrown away and we’ll never even know. 70% of scripted development is… so much the LIFE WORK of so many people.”
In a follow-up tweet, MacKenzie denounced HBO Max’s “bizarre” decisions. “Between The CW’s bloodbath, that WEIRD decision at HBO Max (THEIR CONTENT WAS SLIGHTLY GOOD) and Batgirl getting tossed in the trash… idk, can anyone confirm that WB isn’t run by three children in trench coats? So sad for all these creators who trusted their studio.
Addressing the HBO Max original movies that have been quietly pulled from the streaming service, Apple TV+ series creator “Dickinson” Alena Smith share that she requested a physical copy of her series. “The Batgirl/HBO Max situation is why I spent my last day on the Dickinson set calling an executive at Apple and *begging* for a physical recording of my show…they actually gave it to me one, I have the ONLY copy…. People said I was crazy but man, that’s ten years of my life.
Adam Conover, creator and host of the HBO Max series “Adam Ruins Everything”, caught on David Zaslav’s Apparent ‘Teardown’ of Streaming Service After Warner Bros. Merger Discovery. “HBO Max is widely recognized as the best streaming service. And now the executives who bought it are about to tear it down, just because they feel like it. Mergers give a few wealthy people MASSIVE control over what we watch, with disastrous results.
The creative community’s reaction to Zaslav’s decisions regarding HBO Max may end up mirroring the initial reaction to former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar’s decision to release the entirety of Warner Bros. Movies of 2021 in theaters and on HBO Max day and date. The announcement angered filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve who value an exclusive theatrical window, and while WarnerMedia subsequently doled out compensation payments to talent to make up for perceived box office losses from streaming debuts, the damage for some has been done – Nolan left his longtime home of Warner Bros. to make his next film at Universal.
To further highlight the potential fallout from Zaslav’s actions, Gennifer Hutchinson, writer of “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” and “Better Call Saul” said“We’re sure this new guy doesn’t just have a secret vendetta against HBO Max and it’s all part of an elaborate plan for revenge?”
We should know more during Warner Bros. earnings. Discovery later Thursday, when Zaslav is expected to outline his plans for HBO Max and beyond.