THB #197: Batgirl… Whose Baby Are You?
I am so over this story.
Well, I was. Will be again after tomorrow.
As the news of the erasure of Batgirl and Scoob 2: Holiday Haunt floated out yesterday, those pesky kids were out in full force, spinning all kinds of theories about what was going on over at Warner Bros Discovery. But Batman himself, being old, remembered the first rule of being a Hollywood detective… Follow The Money.
And to their credit, the trades did. They were told, as they asked everyone they could, that there was a tax benefit to WBD from dumping the two titles. But they clearly, from the writing, didn’t really understand what exactly that meant. So they did what everyone else was doing and danced around the fire, spinning yearns about every sort of intention.
But it became clearer, if you worked through it. WBD has some sort of agreement that may be directly connected to tomorrows Q2 financial results release, that apparently allows WBD to “return goods” to AT&T that they don’t want to own under their corporate shell, either for taxes or fiscal responsibility overall.
This landed this morning…
HBO Max Quietly Removed Six Warner Bros. Streaming-Exclusive Movies
Hmmm… seems that the same fate for the complete or nearly complete movies that were executed yesterday is now the fate of 6 more “Max Original” titles. (The actual figuring of this happened on a Reddit thread, acknowledged by Variety.) And the reboot of House Party that was due to land last week is apparently also being erased from the HBO Max universe.
So here is what has been removed or decommissioned…
Not Yet Released
Scoob 2: Holiday Haunt
Locked Down (Storyteller/Hypnotic)
An American Pickle (in association with Sony)
Charm City Kings (produced by Sony)
Superintelligence (Creative Wealth Media Finance)
Some of this is more confusing than other things.
For instance, The Witches, a remake released in 2020, actually generated $30 million for Warner Bros internationally. Domestically, the film went direct to HBO Max and estimates from media suggest it did fairly well at the time. For some weird reason, there was a domestic Christmas Day release at the end of Project Popcorn (2021), 14 months after the film hit HBO Max, generating $250k or so. Another mystery!
On the flip side, Charm City Kings was actually made by Sony, sold to HBO Max as distributor, so I don’t know how its removal helps in any way.
Locked Down was another pick-up.
So I then looked through the entire HBO Max Originals catalog and darned if it didn’t all start making more sense.
WBD is not (at this point) removing any of the documentaries or any of the foreign language pick-ups or any of the series.
The ONLY English-language HBO Max Original movies left in the entire HBO Max catalog after 3 years of operation are three Soderbergh movies (Let Them All Talk, One Sudden Move, and Kimi), 2020’s Unpregnant, 2021’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and 2022’s recently released Father of the Bride remake, which leans Latino.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Soderbergh is in production on a movie slated for HBO Max, but which certainly could be pushed to theatrical, Magic Mike’s Last Dance.
There are 3 other in-production/post films that were slated for HBO Max Original status that we haven’t heard about… Evil Dead Rise, The Parenting, and Blue Beetle. Has Team Zaslav decided that the 2 horror films and the one DC title - which is in post - can convert to theatrical? Maybe.
And there is this ongoing mystery… do any of the rights go for this content go elsewhere?
WBD holds the underlying rights to Batgirl, Scooby Doo, House Party, and The Witches. So no one else can pick those up and run with them. Moonshot is Greg Berlanti, so that’s kinda in-house. But 4 of the films that seem to be in disappearance mode are all originals and some have other non-Warners stakeholders.
Tomorrow is the Warner Bros Discovery earnings release and investors call. I would assume that a lot more will be dropping then, including more financial details on the move to drop Batgirl, the forward-moving plans for Discovery’s integration into what is now known as HBO Max and what the production future for HBO Max will (or will not) look like.
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