In November, Warner Bros. Discovery abruptly announced that the once popular Westworld was canceled. This past season had seen a marked decline in viewer interest. What’s more surprising is that Zaslav has decided to remove all previous seasons from the Max streaming service.
This isn’t the first cost-cutting decision Zaslav and his team have made since Discovery’s acquisition of Warner Media. At the time of the merger, Zaslav promised the investors he would find $3.5 billion in savings for the combined companies.
There were hints of big changes immediately following the merger. Batgirl was completed its $90 million production, but was shelved as a tax write-off.
Yet, Zaslav calls the continued investment in big-budget dramas —like House of the Dragon, Euphoria and The Last of Us to be released in January 2023—“healthy content spends”.
In June of 2022, HBO Max tweeted, “As we work to bring together HBO Max and discovery+, we’re making some changes to our services.” Part of that process included the removal of select content. While canceling shows will lower production costs, removing them from the service also cuts costs because the company doesn’t have to pay residuals to cast and crew for replays. These series will likely be available for other services to license.
According to deadline.com Nellie Andreeva reported hearing that the Westworld and The Nevers will likely end up on WBD’s FAST service (similar to Paramount’s Pluto app).
Moreover, many development deals have been cut, and shows that have almost completed the current season’s production were canceled before release.
The Nevers, a period sci-fi drama, released the first half of its first season but has been canceled and removed. Minx was also canceled even though it had been renewed last May for a second season. Gordita Chronicles, FBoy Island,
Los Espookys, and Legendary have also been canceled, but it hasn’t been announced whether they will be removed from the platform.
Here is a list of shows that have been canceled and may be removed from Max:
- 12 Dates of Christmas
- About Last Night
- At Home with Amy Sedaris
- An American Pickle
- Aquaman: King of Atlantis
- Charm City Kings
- Close Enough
- Czech It Out
- Detention Adventure
- Ellen’s Next Great Designer
- Elliot From Earth
- Esme & Roy
- Final Space
- Full Bloom
- The Fungies!
- Generation Hustle
- Gordita Chronicles
- Here and Now
- Infinity Train
- Locked Down
- Los Espookys
- Love Life
- Little Ellen
- Make It Big, Make It Small
- Mao Mao, Heroes of Pure Heart
- Messy Goes to Okido
- Mia’s Magic Playground
- Mighty Magiswords
- Mrs. Fletcher
- My Dinner with Herve
- My Mom, Your Dad
- OK K.O.! – Let’s Be Heroes
- The Ollie & Moon Show
- Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
- Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness
- Select Sesame Street Specials
- Summer Camp Island
- The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo
- The Nevers
- The Runaway Bunny (Special)
- Tig n’ Seek
- The Witches (2020)
The removal of these titles will make room for a “curated collection of Magnolia Network content” that is “coming soon” to HBO Max.
It’s not just HBO shows. The TBS show Chad, was canceled despite having completed production of Season 2. This appears to be part of the shutdown of scripted production at Discovery-owned TBS and TNT.
Will HBO Lose its Soul?
On November 8, 2022, HBO turned 50. It first aired on that date in 1972 with uncut and uncensored movies. HBO went to comedian George Carlin to offer him an hour special where he could say anything he wanted, which turned into the classic performance that is replayed today.
According to James Andrew Miller, author of the comprehensive oral history Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers HBO invested in artists and allowed them to trust their instincts. It bought Lena Dunham’s Girls without a formal pitch. They allowed the original Game of Thrones pilot to be entirely reshot. The soul of HBO was in redefining TV as something that was creative, inventive, and a pioneer for other content providers in the future.
While this isn’t HBO’s first merger and takeover in its half-century history, what happens under Zaslov will pave the way for its future ethos.
The removal of titles is happening surreptitiously, without warning. If you have the hankering to rewatch your favorite titles, you should binge now.