Will your favorite HBO Max shows and movies be the new Warner Bros. Survive Discovery?

Mega mergers of companies usually don’t involve the average person. Businesses regularly devour each other, and most of us are none the wiser about the consequences of such events, until the products or services you assumed would always be there for you suddenly disappear without explanation, become more expensive, or diminish in quality.

When this happens to tangible goods, we can grieve for a while before reaching for something else and moving on with life. But there are no one-to-one replacements for or favorite TV shows or movies that we might have anticipated, which is why the Warner Bros. Discovery shakeups have gotten so much attention.

Last Tuesday’s revelation that the company has scrapped “Batgirl” was particularly shocking. That film would introduce Leslie Grace, the star of “In the Heights,” into the DC Extended Universe alongside Brendan Fraser as Batgirl’s adversary Firefly, and Michael Keaton returns to play an older Bruce Wayne.

But shortly after San Diego Comic-Con attendees noticed the title wasn’t included in DC’s upcoming releases, the company announced it would never see the light of day, reportedly preferring to recover the $90 million expense as a tax write-off.

The straightforward vault of “Batgirl” is just the latest and most public example of the bloodshed going on at Warner Bros. Discovery. And if you watch TV, chances are if the merger hasn’t impacted your watchlist yet, it will at some point soon.

What does all this mean for your favorite HBO Max shows? No one can say that with absolute certainty right now, but we can make some educated (and hopeful) guesses. Critical and award-winning jury favorites like “Hacks” and “Julia” are likely safe. On Twitter, “Peacemaker” creator James Gunn reassured fans that John Cena’s hero isn’t going anywhere.

What about other highly acclaimed series that people are still discovering, such as “Our Flag Means Death” or “Made For Love”? Who knows. The only safe bets in this stable are star dragons at the moment.

It’s a lot to wrap our heads and hands around — really too much to cover in one place. But to provide a little context, here’s a basic overview of what’s going on and what to expect.

The view from above

Parental Controls with Anderson CooperParental Controls with Anderson Cooper (Photo Courtesy of Warner Media/CNN+)Few corporate marriages have sparked as much apprehensive headlines as the new union between what used to be Discovery Inc. and Warner Bros. was completed in April. The former is known as the home of Shark Week and the “90 Day Fiancé” brand of mental Novocaine. The latter produces every DC-related comic book title you can think of, in addition to owning HBO Max, home to HBO’s library of industry award magnets debuting first on cable (Sunday shows like “Succession,” “Westworld”) along with its own set of streaming originals (“Hacks”, “The Flight Attendant”, etc.).

What does all this mean for your favorite HBO Max shows? No one can say that with absolute certainty.

These are the brands and just a few of the titles that come to mind when you look at the company’s new name. But what most people might not know is that this newly assembled family also — on Discovery’s side — Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, and Chip and Joanna includes. Gaines’ Magnolia Network, which still has the smell of new cars. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. all of what was once the Turner Broadcasting brands, including Cartoon Network, CNN, TNT, TBS and TruTV.

Put all this together and you have an impractical media giant that dominates film, cable and streaming. Before all of this, HBO Max was already on top form. Sometime in 2023, HBO Max will combine its massive library with everything that’s on Discovery+ on a yet-to-be-named streaming service. Currently, each HBO Max and Discovery+ reach 92 million subscribers worldwide.

The newly anointed CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, isn’t surprised at that possibility, though. Responding to the company’s $53 billion in gross debt, he has sheathed his machete and blowtorch. Days after the merger became official, Zaslav died of CNN’s streaming news network CNN+ in its cradle. On April 29, he went on to disintegrate most of Warner Bros. Discovery produced Arrowverse shows that aired on The CW, including the much-loved “Legends of Tomorrow.”

Whatever streamer emerges from the wreckage creating this clunky kaiju by stomping on Hollywood’s entire creative community, 40 million subscribers still need to be added to break even, and probably won’t before 2024 or 2025. to happen.

the disappeared

At home with Amy SedarisAt home with Amy Sedaris (photo by Phil Caruso/TruTV/WarnerMedia)There are two things to know about Zaslav: first, he was never a fan of his predecessor’s pandemic gamble to stream theatrical releases on HBO Max or produce movies made especially for the service, in order to build his subscriber base. . Second, he’s a fan of reality programming — though in a recent quarterly appeal, Zaslav praised Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys’ stewardship of HBO and HBO Max’s development.

So it’s not entirely shocking that in addition to the funerals of “Batgirl,” which was in post-production and a planned sequel to the animated film “Scoob!”, several HBO Max-made movies have already disappeared from HBO Max including “Charm City Kings,” ‘An American Pickle’, ‘The Witches’, ‘Moonshot’, ‘Superintelligence’ and ‘Locked Down’. The LeBron James-produced remake of “House Party” was supposed to premiere just over a week ago, but that has also been postponed.

Perhaps you never intended to watch any of these movies or are reassured to know that you can rent them via video on demand. But HBO Max subscribers may have counted on discovering it, along with newer shows and past samples of a favorite creator or artist’s work, without paying an additional fee.

Due to the silent disappearances of various HBO programs from the service, this is no longer self-evident.

Alexa Woo, Nasim Pedrad and Jake Ryan in “Chad” (Liane Hentscher/TBS)So far, the list of departed HBO’s “Vinyl,” which was co-executive, produced by Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese; “Here and Now”, by Alan Ball, creator of “True Blood”; Lena Dunham’s “Camping”; Steven Soderbergh’s and George Clooney’s “K Street”; “Mrs. Fletcher”, backed by Kathryn Hahn’s critically acclaimed performance; and walk.”

It doesn’t stop there. Cult gems like “At Home with Amy Sedaris” and “Chad” are also gone. Their defenestration follows the cancellations of their standard cable siblings, including TNT’s “Snowpiercer” and TBS’ “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”

the endangered

Harley QuinnHarley Quinn (courtesy of HBO Max)Zaslav was unequivocal about his disdain for his predecessor’s direct-to-streaming movie model. As for how he sees the value of HBO Max’s originals (ie the TV shows), that’s harder to deduce.

According to several industry trade reports, the series and movies being culled were not popular with HBO Max subscribers, but recently came out enough to qualify for a tax write-off. (Ask your accountant to explain depreciation.)

The new Warner Bros. Discovery regime has shown a willingness to keep completed or near-completed projects on the shelf to save some money.

The ones mentioned above are just the missing points that mainstream viewers have noticed so far. More disappearances to come.

But this also means that existing shows that are considered underperformers are unlikely to get additional seasons, which may not bode well for critically acclaimed DC titles like “Harley Quinn” or “Doom Patrol,” which also features Brendan Fraser. (That’s right, Zaslav has a negative influence on the Brendan Fraser Renaissance. Too bad!)

Doom PatrolMatt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, Joivan Wade, Dianne Guerrero on “Doom Patrol” (Photo by Bob Mahoney/HBO Max)During Thursday’s quarterly earnings call, Zaslav also hinted at emulating Marvel’s model to revive the DC TV and movie brand, citing Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman as core titles.

“Harley Quinn” is directly linked to the Batman brand, as is “Suicide Squad”, so there may be hope. In addition, the third season recently debuted on HBO Max. “Doom Patrol” is more of an edge-case title connecting to the Justice League primarily through Cyborg. The good news is that season four production started in February.

On the other hand, the new Warner Bros. Discovery regime demonstrated a willingness to suspend completed or near-completed projects to save some money. Hopefully, that financially motivated ruthlessness doesn’t extend to established shows. But don’t hold your breath.

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it comes down to

Chip and Joanna Gaines in “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home” (Magnolia Network)

There are plenty of numbers to analyze in terms of ratings and revenue, but we’re still in the early days of Warner Bros. Discovery. No one can say with any authority what it will look like in a few months, let alone a year.

What we’ve seen so far, however, is worrying. Mergers always lead to significant job losses, and early reports estimated that 70% of the streaming service’s development team would be laid off, in addition to the dozens of employees who have already been kicked out.

“Our strategy is to embrace, support and drive the incredible success of HBO Max,” said Zaslav. “It’s a very unique moment. We think it’s an extraordinary asset. It’s an extraordinary advantage. I’ve said this before: it’s not about how much, but how good.” Which offers no concrete guarantees that those layoffs will not occur.

Regardless of that, or the swirling and mixing of two huge content oceans, there’s no escaping the chance that the amount of inclusive content and diversely staffed productions will dwindle. For example, a recent press release touting Magnolia Network’s impending addition to HBO Max promises a selection of “curated” content, listing a few titles planned for the lineup. “Homegrown,” one of the few Magnolia titles with a non-white host, was not included.

A representative from the network told Salon that additional titles would be confirmed closer to the launch of Magnolia’s spotlight page. That doesn’t ease my concerns.

The management of the one is the clearing of the other, and the cleaning of the house of Warner Bros. Discovery is an example of this. While the libraries will be extensive once the content deck is finally shuffled, the result will be less creative script swings in the short term. Expect that, along with a revival of reruns and game shows on standard cable channels that once featured vibrant original prime time slates. The merger may have expanded the media company’s reach, but brace yourself. When one company manages that many streams, your viewing options will almost certainly shrink in fundamentally important ways.

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