There has been a lot of confusion surrounding HBO and HBO Max lately. Earlier this week, the company announced that they scrapped any plans to release Batgirl, the $90 million superhero movie with an all-star cast that includes In The Heights’ Leslie Rose, fan-favorite Brendon Fraser, DC veteran JK Simmons and the long-awaited return of Michale Keaton as Batman. HBO Max cites poor test screenings and financial distress as the reason for the decision, though surely the loss is greater than whatever tax benefits the company would receive. So what is the motive here?
There are a few things going on. First, Warner Bros has shifted around its release schedule a lot after merging with Discovery earlier this year. This caused cuts to trickle down to many of the studio’s brands, including TNT and TBS, which recently axed Full Frontal With Samantha Bee.
Then, earlier this week, HBO quietly began pulling various HBO Max original programming from its site and scrubbing some of its upcoming release schedules. Users also noted that HBO originals like Vinyl have been yanked from the streamer, along with all eight Harry Potter movies, which are leaving the platform at the end of this month. It should also be noted that while the streamer removed certain titles, many of HBO Max’s exclusive releases are still on the platform, like Kimi and The Fallout.
While removing content isn’t unheard of (Netflix swaps out movies on a monthly basis) it is strange that the streamer would be taking off its original content. This had fans of popular HBO shows Peacemaker and The Flight Attendant scrambling to be sure that their favorite shows wouldn’t disappear forever. Luckily, it seems like those shows are safe for now.
All of the scrubbing and shifting comes before the company is scheduled to report its second-quarter earnings on Thursday, August 4th. Some reports hint that HBO is slowly moving underperforming movies to a video-on-demand platform for viewers to pay for individually, but nothing is confirmed at the moment.