With news of HBO Max’s big merger with Discovery + has come uncertainty for many shows and creators as the company pivots in a new direction.
The first Afro-Latina Batgirl has already become a casualty, with Warner Brothers permanently shelving the near-completed superhero project indefinitely, and also quietly pulling 6 other films produced as HBO Max original films, including The Witches starring Octavia Spencer and Chris Rock, Charm City Kings starring Jahi Di’Allo Winston, William Catlett, and Meek Mill, and Locked Down starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ann Hathaway.
Now, reports say that all original scripted HBO Max series have been paused indefinitely, with major staff cuts on the way as the streaming platform moves into its next chapter.
ScreenRant reports that, under the leadership of new Warner Brothers CEO David Zaslav, HBO Max is no longer producing scripted TV shows moving forward. Current HBO MAX original scripted programming includes titles such as Issa Rae’s comedy Rap Sh!t, the romantic comedy-drama Love Life, Sex and the City spinoff series And Just Like That, and the recently premiered Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin among others. There is no definitive word on the fate of these programs, but industry speculation believes that they will fold into HBO’s mainline programming.
However, reporting from The Wrap suggests that, amid what they describe as “significant layoffs for [HBO’s] executives and staff” to the tune of 70% and including the full elimination of HBO Max’s scripted TV division, scripted programming over the entire HBO brand is on the decline.
No word yet on what these new developments mean for unscripted HBO Max Originals such as ballroom competition Legendary and reality drama The Sweet Life: Los Angeles.
As The Verge reports, Zaslav pinpoints the merger and its accompanying programming eliminations as making way for an all-new streaming platform to launch in 2023.
“HBO Max has a competitive feature set, but it has had performance and customer issues,” Zaslav said on an August 4 earnings call. He also assured investors on the line that his company was not simply going on a cancellation spree of HBO Max’s beloved content, but the report did not delve further into what that means for the current slate of HBO Max programming.