The Warner Bros Discover merger was a huge shakeup for the entertainment industry and now it looks like the structure of HBO Max could cancel a whole lot of its conent. CEO David Zaslav has been looking to implement major changes, with the recent cancellation of Batgirl and the cancellation of several CW projects being the latest trimming down that has rubbed fans the wrong way. Apparently, there are even talks of HBO getting rid of scripted content entirely, or at least paring it down in a major way. This Tweet indicates development staff may be laid off as a result:
The odd part of these rumored changes is the fact that HBO Max is doing very well. The streaming platform has been increasing its subscribers and creating hit shows that have been commercially and critically acclaimed. The latest season of the hit show Euphoria has been one of the most streamed shows of the year so far. New shows like Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty and Peacemaker have also been fast hits. Not to mention upcoming shows like House of the Dragon, the prequel to Game of Thrones that hopes to be the massive hit that its predecessor was. HBO Max series that may very well get a cancel notice are expected to bring in quite a few Emmy noms this year, along with a batch of wins.
While the majority of these rumors are speculation, there has been the announcement that the HBO Max and Discovery+ apps will be turned into one platform, giving customers even more content and value out of their subscription. There have also been talks of the HBO Max branding being removed and replaced with a name like HBO+. In addition to the rumors that the scripted series for HBO Max might be going away, there are rumors that films will no longer be produced specifically for the platform. Rather, they will use their model of releasing a film in theaters for 45 days and then come to the HBO Max platform for streaming. This won’t be a huge change, as films like Dune and The Batman followed a similar formula and had plenty of success. Presumably, this tactic will be used to try and maximize profits for the films with theatrical runs. While this makes sense for blockbusters, some are wondering if this tactic will be used for smaller films with less of a theater draw.
Another worry for HBO Max employees is the fact that the company may opt to have Discovery take over the unscripted department, cutting down on the HBO Max unscripted staff. This would also line up with the rumor of HBO wanting to focus more on unscripted since this is more in Discovery’s wheelhouse. Regardless of which direction David Zaslav is planning on taking scripted and unscripted series, it seems unlikely Warner Bros Discovery is done cutting and canceling projects. While the Batgirl movie and the animated Scoob! sequel are the latest victims of the Warner Discovery merger, they may not be the last.