Warner Bros. Discovery has been quietly curating content from Max HBO — including several Warner Bros. movies that were streaming exclusively on the service — in what appears to be an effort to cut costs.
In recent weeks, at least six Warner Bros. movies have been removed from HBO Max: “moon shot”, a sci-fi romantic comedy starring Lana Condor and Cole Sprouse; artificial intelligence dystopian comedysuperintelligence”, 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’s “Locked Down” heist photo with Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor; and the drama “Kings of the City of Enchantment” by director Ángel Manuel Soto.
All six films were labeled “Max Originals”. The eliminations were indicated by users on Reddit in a discussion of Warner Bros. decision to reject plans to release “Batgirl” — in theaters, on HBO Max or through any other platform.
Meanwhile, the reboot of the comedy classic “House Party”, from LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill, was previously scheduled to premiere July 28 on HBO Max, but was scratched from the release schedule.
To be sure, streaming platforms continually add and remove content. What is unusual is that Warner Bros. Discovery did not announce the removal of the six WB streaming exclusives from HBO Max. (Movies are available to rent or purchase through third-party VOD services.) It’s also worth noting that “Moonshot” was pulled from HBO Max just about three months after it debuted on March 31.
HBO Max’s removal of Warner Bros. movies could be part of WBD’s move to take streaming content payment obligations for underperforming titles off its books. In the case of an unreleased movie like the “House Party” remake, the media conglomerate could be accounting for it as a tax cut, since is expected to do so with “Batgirl” and “Scoob: Holiday Haunt” (the last of which was a sequel to the animated film “Scoob!”).
Representatives for Warner Bros. Discovery did not respond to inquiries about the movie removals from HBO Max. The company is scheduled to report second quarter 2022 earnings on Thursday (Aug 4) after the market close. Warner Bros. Discovery took on a whopping $43 billion in debt through the WarnerMedia deal; the merged company had a debt-to-equity ratio of around 4.6x after the deal closed.
Like other streaming services, HBO Max issues monthly updates on titles being added and removed; For example, he announced that The eight original “Harry Potter” movies will leave HBO Max at the end of Augustwhile also adding a lot of content including 28 A24 films like “Room” and “Ex Machina”. But none of the Warner Bros. Original Movies purged from HBO Max were included in recent updates.
As of now, several Warner Bros. exclusive movies for HBO Max are still on the service. Those include the 2022 remake of “The Father of the Bride,” starring Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan; Steven Soderbergh’s “Let Them All Talk” starring Meryl Streep and “Kimi” starring Zoë Kravitz; and “The Fallout”, “No Sudden Move”, “Unpregnant” and “8-Bit Christmas”.
In December 2021, before David Zaslav’s Discovery closed WarnerMedia’s transaction with AT&T, WarnerMedia launched a campaign promoting HBO Max’s major 2022 releases, including “House Party,” “Scoob: Holiday Haunt,” and “Moonshot.” . The campaign sizzle that was originally shared on YouTube has since been made private. You can still see it on Twitter:
This day @HBOMax launched a new campaign featuring programming for 2022, with highly anticipated original programming, @WBPictures movies made exclusively for HBO Max, new content from @DCcomics and Wizarding World franchises, hit 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”