The absolutely baffling decisions coming out of Warner Bros. continues. Yesterday, it was announced that Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunts, both movies that were slated to be HBO Max releases for this year and that were very close to being completed, were being canceled. That didn't make a lot of sense to a lot of people because the whole point of a studio owning its own streaming service was if they had a movie, they didn't want to dump a ton of marketing and promotional material into for a full theatrical run, they could just quietly release it onto streaming and move on. Netflix seems to do that every week, and while that doesn't appear to be working in the long term for Netflix, it is an option if you don't want to flush millions of dollars down the toilet completely. Since then, the people behind Scoob! have taken to social media to say that they were just as blindsided as the rest of us; James Gunn is doing his best to placate fans that Peacemaker is going to be just fine, and there is gossip that the talent behind Batgirl is being paid off. Now HBO Max is proving why no one should get rid of their DVDs or Blu-Rays anytime soon in the streaming era. According to Variety, six movies that were pitched as HBO Max exclusive movies have been quietly removed from the service with no forewarning to viewers.
Are things at Warner Bros. so bad that they quite literally cannot keep the lights on and need to turn off the servers at HBO Max for these movies? Because these aren't old released or something that came out forever ago, HBO Max isn't that old of a service, so they couldn't be that old. The six titles include:
- Moonshot: starring Cole Sprouse, Lana Condor, Mason Gooding, Emily Rudd, and Zach Braff. It streamed to HBO Max on March 31, 2022.
- Superintelligence: starring Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale, Brian Tyree Henry, Jean Smart, and James Corden. It streamed to HBO Max on November 26, 2020.
- The Witches: starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Rock. It streamed to HBO Max on October 20, 2020.
- An American Pickle: starring Seth Rogen and Sarah Snook. It streamed to HBO Max on August 6, 2020.
- Locked Down: starring Anne Hathaway, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, Lucy Boynton, Mark Gatiss, Claes Bang, Ben Stiller, and Ben Kingsley. It streamed to HBO Max on January 14, 2021.
- Charm City Kings: starring Jahi Di'Allo Winston, Meek Mill, Will Catlett, and Teyonah Parris. It streamed to HBO Max on October 8, 2020.
A decent portion of those movies was released during the worst of quarantine and was some of the things used by HBO Max to encourage people to sign up for its service during the worst of the pandemic. Two of them, Charm City Kings and American Pickle, were actually acquired by Warner Bros. for HBO Max from Sony Pictures Classics, which makes this decision even weirder. This whole thing and the decisions that Warner Bros. is making just don't make any sense. If that wasn't bad enough, they have also pulled a movie from the schedule, including the remake of House Party from LeBron James, which was pulled from the calendar, and no one even said anything. It was supposed to be released on July 28th, and they just didn't release it, so this isn't something that has come to fruition in the last few days or so. That scrubbed release from last week speaks volumes now.
If they are trying to get rid of all of the HBO Max original movies, then they aren't doing a very good job because they are picking and choosing. At the time of writing, several HBO Max original movies are still on the service. Father of the Bride [released June 16, 2022], Let Them All Talk [released December 10, 2020], Kimi [released February 10, 2022], The Fallout [released January 27, 2022], No Sudden Move [released July 1, 2021], Unpregnant [released September 10, 2020], and 8-Bit Christmas [released November 24, 2021] all remain on the service. However, that could all change. Variety notes that HBO Max is losing Harry Potter at the end of the month but gaining 24 titles from A24. More and more information will likely come from the fallout as Warner Bros. appears to be lighting itself on fire and then being surprised that people are turning up and asking about the spectacle.