Last week, Warner Bros Discovery canceled the Batgirl movie without warning.
It was a shock to fans, and also to the cast and directors. The entire industry watched in horror.
This was just the opening salvo in David Zaslav’s apparent war on his recent acquisition, HBO Max.
People immediately blamed 90 Day Fiance. Then, Warner Bros Discovery’s own presentation brought up the reality series again.
Last week, the bleak news coming out of Warner Bros Discovery gave people a lot of reasons to despair.
Discovery buying a legendary company was already weird enough.
Canceling a finished Batgirl movie and making plans to dramatically roll back HBO Max’s best content was worse.
Then came last week’s widely ridiculed presentation graphic.
Social media has spent days making fun of the weird and likely sexist sorting of scripted vs unscripted content.
Also, the nerve of someone to write “genredoms” with a straight face … it’s pretty remarkable.
Other graphics went over just as poorly, from an “all ads” option for the upcoming merged streaming service … to this.
As you can see above, 90 Day Fiance “Universe” is wedged between Game of Thrones and Harry Potter.
While those two fictional franchises have certainly not aged well, albeit for different reasons, it’s so weird.
Then, of course, came the memes. They’re a great way to grapple with the absurdity of the human condition.
Some media is entertaining. Some is a cultural milestone that changes peoples lives and defines friendships.
No one is saying that 90 Day Fiance isn’t fun. But seeing it compared to decades-spanning tentpole franchises is laughable.
(Everyone, meet my new personal sleep paralysis demon)
Obviously, 90 Day Fiance has been a huge success for TLC and for Discovery (who owns TLC … and now, unfortunately, who owns Warner Bros).
But putting it on the same row as the Batman logo is goofy as hell, to say the least.
You may be wondering why people are making such a big deal about a bad presentation and some cringe graphics.
The answer is that it’s part of a larger series of changes at Warner Bros Discovery that look pretty bleak.
HBO Max became one of the most-watched and most-liked streaming services early this year. That may be about to change.
People are understandably still in shock over the abrupt cancelation of Batgirl.
Apparently, Zaslav thinks that the tax writeoff for shelving a finished film is better for the brand than releasing the film.
Is the movie bad? Probably not. But viewers will never get to find out. And the industry will never forget how this happened.
Overall, this feels like an ominous sign of other, worse changes to come. Some of that is already happening.
Zaslav may be acting like a cartoon villain, but he’s rolling back some of Warner Bros and DC’s most successful work — animation.
Several films have also quietly “disappeared” from HBO Max, because it’s cheaper to not include them for subscribers.
It is also almost unbelievable that WHD is going to roll HBO Max into Discovery Plus, and not the other way around.
Next year, the combined streaming service will simply be Discovery Plus, with HBO Max as a footnote.
Discovery Plus has about one-third of the subscribers of HBO Max. Also, combining will make less money than keeping them separate.
In many ways, just considering that Discovery has bought a classic Hollywood company sounds like a 30 Rock joke.
One analogy for the change is to imagine if WEtv somehow bought Disney.
Now we must imagine if they discontinued many Star Wars and Marvel projects in favor of the “Mama June Universe.”