hush-hush

HBO Max Has Been Taking Stuff Down Without Warning for Weeks

Illustration: Martin Gee

Update, Thursday, August 4, 2022: The plot thickens. As rumors swirl surrounding HBO Max’s possible impending merger with Discovery+, many have discovered that the streamer has removed more titles from its library than previously reported. This morning, a tweet from @LanceStLaurent pointed out that not only are Max Original movies being removed, but the HBO original series Vinyl (short-lived, but alas) has also been unceremoniously removed from the streamer. Indiewire reported that a “long list of films and series” will continue to be pulled as Warner Bros. Discovery plans to eventually merge its two streaming services. “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,” per that report.

A Reddit thread from a month ago noticed a handful of HBO Max’s foreign shows like Amsterdam had also been quietly removed. The streamer’s customer-service Twitter account @HBOMaxHelp has corroborated this information. It’s been replying to users asking why certain titles have been removed with versions of this form answer: “As we work to bring together HBO Max and discovery+, we’re making some changes to our services. Part of that process includes the removal of select content.” The earliest tweet we could find goes back to June 28, 2022.

The following shows and films are the removed “select content” from HBO Max’s library:

Amy
Amsterdam
• An American Pickle
• Charm City Kings
Czech It Out
Final Space
Full Bloom
Here and Now
• Locked Down
Moonshot
Mrs. Fletcher
Vinyl
The Witches (2020)

Also, it should be noted that these HBO shows, such as Mrs. Fletcher and Vinyl, are available on HBO On Demand for cable users, as well as on VOD platforms. If you see any more curious disappearances from HBO Max, please feel free to notify us at streamliner@vulture.com.

Original story follows.

Something strange is going on over at HBO Max. After the news of Warner Bros. Discovery shelving DC’s upcoming straight-to-streaming Batgirl and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, keen-eyed Reddit users noticed that certain Max Original films had been pulled from the service altogether. Variety confirmed the report, stating that at least six films made and released exclusively on the streaming service were recently pulled from HBO Max without the company mentioning it in its monthly reports of films leaving the service. (While movies coming and going on streaming services is common, quietly removing a streamer’s own original content is not.) The six films in question are the Lana Condor– and Cole Sprouse–starring Moonshot, Robert Zemeckis’s remake of The Witches starring Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer, Seth Rogen’s An American Pickle, Superintelligence with Melissa McCarthy, Doug Liman’s COVID flick Locked Down with Anne Hathaway (what’s Warner Bros’ beef here?! Kidding … maybe) and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and lastly, director Angel Manuel Soto’s Charm City Kings. Meanwhile, LeBron James’s reboot of House Party was scheduled for a July 28 release and now is absent from the calendar entirely. The films, except LeBron’s, are available for purchase or rent on VOD platforms.

While Warner Bros. Discovery has not commented on the situation — we have yet to receive a response of our own — the news comes ahead of the company’s second-quarter earnings call on Thursday, August 4. In a June 2022 issue of Buffering, Josef Adalian wrote that while HBO Max has been thriving, and the service is No. 1 on Vulture’s streamer power rankings(!), the second half of the year will be “anything but stable” as new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav continues to lead the company into new ventures, preferably ones that involve making movies for the big screen. Per Buffering, the word is that he feels future “movies on the Made for Max slate should now come in with a budget under $35 million.” Variety did state that the removal of the service’s six Max Originals was an effort to “cut costs” by axing less-popular streaming titles — after publishing a separate report claiming an insider’s reasoning for Batgirl being shelved was “taxes. Looks like HBO Max’s year of instability starts now.

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HBO Max Has Been Taking Stuff Down Without Warning for Weeks