Warner Bros. Discovery New Bosses Gut original programming and remove content from services

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In a series of surprising and somewhat confusing moves, new leadership at Warner Bros. Discovery the original programming across platforms and removes content from the new HBO Max streaming service. Most scripted content is being canceled from TNT, TBS, and HBO Max, while a number of existing movies and series have been removed from HBO Max — including original content released months ago on HBO Max, as well as content from HBO cable services that was shown on HBO Max. the new service but what is now MIA Here are some thoughts on what it means and how it might shake it all out.

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This is my review and response to recent news about WBD, HBO Max and their plans for the future. Much remains unknown, much remains to be seen, but for now we have seen and heard enough to have a first thought about what it means and where it will lead.

Yesterday, WBD leadership announced that HBO Max and Discovery+ will be merged into a single streaming entity next year, with the goal of increasing the number of subscribers from its current level of 92 million to 130 million by 2025. , maintain and expand streaming content, and focus on theatrical release prior to streaming.

Once again, the studio will try to halt and restart their DCEU plans mid-stream, with a 10-year plan to get overseers who can deliver Marvel-esque planning and success, similar to the two previous aborted efforts last year. decade. This time is expected to have a different outcome, but we’ll have to wait to see what the plan really is before assessing the odds of success. And someone has to be hired to come up with the plan.

What we know for sure is that they are breaking the current DC plans and want to somehow recreate the DCEU. They even suggested they might change next year’s DCEU tent poles extra The flash, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdomand Black Adam. That would be a big expense for artistic changes dictated for business purposes, the kind of rethinking and tinkering that sank Batman vs Superman and Justice Leaguewhich started the whole problem for Warner and the DCEU in the first place.

This all comes on the heels of earlier this week when WBD decided to release some branded IP movies, including: batgirl because they can use it as a tax write-off (which they say is worth more money than a branded superhero movie starring Batman). Word is the studio loves the movie and everyone involved, but felt it wasn’t big enough to release in theaters, and they’re determined not to release a major brand IP on streaming where the lower budgets don’t reach the level achieving cinematic spectacle WBD’s new leadership thinks it’s necessary for DC properties.

It’s strange to see WBD cancel batgirl and insist it’s not worth putting more money into boosting the visuals and promoting them, but then suggest they’re open to more money to make additional changes to The flash and committed to its theatrical release despite a much larger ballooning budget and constant new reports and allegations regarding head Ezra Miller.

Warner Bros. Discovery has DC Comics, Harry Potter and the “Wordworld”, The Matrix, Mad MaxLooney Tunes, Hanna Barbara, Under the spell of the Ring and hobbit, Game of Thrones, the “Monsterverse” and a lot of other big brands and franchises. Pooling their investments and licenses to maximize theatrical project development for the studio’s largest IP, if done right, would fill their annual multiplex list and theoretically generate huge revenue streams.

Streaming output would be relegated to HBO original programming and Discovery+ programming, combined on a single streaming platform starting next year (because if Warner needed one more thing in addition to everything else, it would go through the building and launch a new streaming service again). with all of Warner’s major IP reserved for big-budget cinema investments, leaving the streaming/TV side of things to Discovery and HBO.

However, this could put aside original content and mid/low budget projects at Warner, while reducing funding for original content on streaming. It could also prioritize profit margins and merchandising considerations over things like artistic vision, working relationships, and whether filmmakers can be confident that their work will one day be seen by an audience rather than being viewed as more valuable as a tax write-off.

It also ignores certain realities – such as a global plague with no end in sight that often disrupts theatrical performances, and the fact that streaming is the dominant form of audience consumption of content (which is why, for example, most other studios try to create successful streaming platforms) – which could hinder a theater-focused approach that limits streaming services.

It risks having all of WBD’s major IPs held hostage to public health and international markets (some of which, like China, are closing to Hollywood), while other studios are given extra years to expand or catch up on their streaming lead. and HBO Max to pass. just as the latter received praise as one of the best streamers.

It’s also hard not to point out that executive interference in creative decisions rarely goes well, and a glaring example of this danger is the potential ramifications for Matt Reeves’ recently released Batman reboot. Ten years after Christopher Nolan’s end… Dark Knight Trilogyare we finally back where so many people felt we should have stayed in first place, with the equivalent of a reset to the end of Nolan’s Batman and a spiritual successor that picks up about where we expected the story to go The Dark Knight (but for the finality of) The Dark Knight Rises).

So Warner finally has a chance to go back to that moment and make the choice to keep it alive, so to speak. Instead, we might see Reeves’ plans turned upside down, his streaming spin-offs canceled or suspended, and his intentions subjected to business tinkering to make it something else. Whether Reeves would agree or not, we don’t know yet, but he would be completely within his rights to walk away, even if that would break the hearts of many fans (mine included).

If that’s what’s happening, if the studio ruined their chance at an ongoing idealized Batman franchise due to the corporate inability to acknowledge their own limitations and indulge in artists with exactly the creative vision needed right now, then I throw my hands in the air and lose faith in whatever plans the studio has. And at that point I’m just waiting for the next batch of owners and leaders to reset things again.

So the Batman series is like a canary in the coal mine. Keep a close eye on it.

It’s hard to do much with the claims that WBD will somehow manage to increase spending, produce more movies and streaming shows, focus on theater, grow streaming by 50% in two years and control costs, while everything is better quality and more financially successful. And for WBD, that starts with canceling most script programming and most projects in development for most major brand IPs, while removing shows and movies from the streaming service that they want to fold into another service and then transfer them back to the cable station. origin.

This is a common approach by new owners of virtually every business – cutting back on expenses and spending, putting everything from the previous leadership on hold, combining services, selling what you can, and making sweepingly optimistic statements about controlling costs, but also spend money on better things for unexpected gains.

It looks and sounds like positioning for acquisition by a larger entity down the road, to be blunt. So this is all about streamlining WBD into a branded IP machine that can either be bought by Amazon or Apple, or broken up into parts and sold to the highest bidders for HBO, DC, Warner, Discovery, etc. On?

Whatever is most efficient and makes the most money is what will happen. And it certainly will, regardless of whether the current leadership’s plans all come true and/or work as intended. If WBD manages to turn their DC properties into a unified whole that achieves Marvel-level success, and develop other franchise IPs with similar degrees of success, then a box office dominance at that level alongside a sleek and more efficient cable/streaming services are indeed a great long-term win.

But what it takes to get there, and the risks of part of the plan failing along the way, are significant costs that can be too high a price to pay. But worst of all, it might not have been necessary at all.

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