Is HBO Max going away? Changes may come Thursday
(NEXSTAR) — Is HBO Max getting the axe? On Thursday, fans of the two-year-old streaming service are waiting to learn the fate of new favorite original programming like “Hacks” and “FBoy Island,” in addition to the streamer’s whole library. Amid rumors of mass layoffs — as reported by The Wrap — and a shift away from scripted TV and films, many are now worried parent company Warner Bros. Discovery will gut HBO Max and merge it with its Discovery+ platform.
But it’s not currently known what Max offerings would survive such a move. President and CEO David Zaslav is set to give updates on possible changes at Thursday’s WB-Discovery quarterly earnings call.
The uncertainty comes days after Warner Bros. announced it would shelve its $90 million “Batgirl” film, which is already completed. The film isn’t currently even slated to make it to streaming, but the company is planning to use it as a tax write-off, according to the Hollywood Reporter and other outlets.
“Batgirl,” which was set to be Michael Keaton’s first return as Batman since 1992, was in production before the WB-Discovery Inc. merger. According to the studio, shelving the film came after poor audience testing. But many have noted the many DC Comics films that received both negative reviews and still got a release. In a statement, a Warner Bros. representative said the decision “reflects a strategic shift as it relates to the DC Universe and HBO Max.”
The studio is also shelving the animated “Scoob!” prequel, which was nearly complete.
In the past few days, several Max Originals have also disappeared from the service, including the Seth Rogen vehicle “An American Pickle” and the teen romcom “Moonshot.” It’s unlikely any strictly HBO shows or films could face cancelation, as Warner Bros. Discovery’s statements have only related to Max-only content.
Shows that could be on the chopping block include DC Comics’ “Peacemaker” and comedy-drama “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” In the meantime, Discovery originals like Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network shows are expected to move to HBO Max next month, though it’s not yet clear what the platform will look like or be called at that time.
Reaction to the possibility of HBO Max’s dissolution was fierce, with “HBO Max” trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday.
“HBO Max is by far the best of the streamers with a great catalogue of shows and movies — not sure what the thought process here is other than corporate greed,” tweeted actor and writer Emmy Potter. Entertainment writer Eric Francisco echoed the sentiment, saying: “The crumbling of HBO Max before our eyes is infuriating. Not because we should love HBO unconditionally but because the service has easily the best library of classic shows and movies AND daring originals that never feel like they’re made by algorithms.”
Warner Bros. Discovery did not immediately respond to a request for comment.