HBO Max Appears To Be Inexplicably Purging Streaming-Exclusive Movies From The Service

Update 3: According to Deadline, a whopping 37 titles were quietly removed from HBO Max, many of which were animated series that will no longer be available to watch anywhere, streaming or through physical media.

Update 2: It now appears that select HBO shows have been purged from HBO Max. The one-season series "Vinyl" has vanished from the streaming platform.

Update: In a new report by IndieWire, further information reveals even more disconcerting details surrounding Warner Bros. Discovery's new strategy moving forward. As many in the industry feared, the studio's businesslike approach to culling their own streaming service of titles may only be the beginning. Reportedly, a source has confirmed that these 6 films are only "part of a long list of films and series being pulled off HBO Max and Discovery+" ahead of a planned merger to combine both HBO Max and the nascent Discovery+ streaming service. In explaining which titles may get the unceremonious treatment of being dumped from HBO Max in the meantime, the report continues:

" The content being targeted for removal tends to be shows and movies that are not performing on the service but have an opportunity for a partial write off."

The original article is as follows.

The chaotic situation over at Warner Bros. Discovery doesn't appear to be stabilizing anytime soon, folks. The studio's unprecedented and shocking decision to just accept the loss of over $90 million and completely shelve an almost-finished movie in "Batgirl" and the animated "Scoob!" sequel continues to reverberate throughout the industry. Not even 24 hours after that unexpected bombshell first dropped, indicating Discovery CEO David Zaslav's single-minded and utterly ruthless strategy to prioritize theatrical releases over streaming (a sudden about-face from previous ownership strategy under AT&T, you'll remember), the latest news regarding HBO Max sure seems to underline that point.

Sneaky and underhanded cost-cutting manoeuvres

In a new report by Variety, we now know that Warner Bros. Discovery has been surreptitiously removing certain original movies from their own streaming service, HBO Max, in what seems like — what else — a sneaky and underhanded cost-cutting maneuver. Reportedly, within the last few weeks, the studio has quietly taken down at least half a dozen movies that debuted straight-to-streaming. Those titles include the Cole Sprouse and Lara Condor-starring rom-com "Moonshot," Melissa McCarthy's "Superintelligence," the Robert Zemeckis-directed "The Witches" remake, Seth Rogen's "An American Pickle," "Charm City Kings," and even one of the earliest Covid-set movies, Doug Liman's "Locked Down," starring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

On top of that, the planned "House Party" reboot, previously meant to debut this past July on HBO Max, is no longer on the studio's release schedule at all. Call it what it is: a sudden and bizarre bloodbath as Warner Bros. Discovery's new leadership attempts to assert their new strategy moving forward.

What does this mean moving forward?

Combined with the dramatic and incredibly rare move to forgo any kind of release for "Batgirl" altogether, the possible implications of Warner Bros. Discovery's mission to further deemphasize their streaming space are enough to make one's head spin. The Variety report suggests that this latest development stems from the need "to get streaming-content payment obligations for underperforming titles off its books." In other words? Accounting housecleaning. Tax write-offs are the phrase of the day, as a previous Variety report revealed, and that now seems to have become the main concern as Zaslav continues to deal with the inherited productions that have now landed in his lap.

As /Film's Ryan Scott previously wrote, this falls in line with the studio's past decision-making process that ultimately made "Zack Snyder's Justice League" — ostensibly an HBO Max exclusive — available on VOD. Exclusivity and subscriber totals might not be as valuable as the previous regime once thought, at least not in a new theatrical landscape where a movie like "Top Gun: Maverick" could weather several COVID-related delays and debut in theaters to ultimately earn over $1 billion.

On a much more disturbing note, this certainly raises the question of whether the studio might continue their belligerently filmmaker-unfriendly practices and give other high-profile HBO Max movies the same treatment — say, the ones made by writer/director Steven Soderbergh. As of this writing, both "No Sudden Move" and "Let Them All Talk" are currently available on the streaming service ... but for how much longer, presuming the algorithmic numbers suddenly don't add up one day?

More news is certain to come, especially with Warner Bros. Discovery's investor's call tomorrow, August 4, 2022. Keep a close eye on /Film for continuing updates on this story.