If there is one thing for sure we’ve learned about Warner Bros. since its merger with Discovery, it’s that nothing is safe. Under the rein of David Zaslav, President and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, a fair number of shocking measures have been taken in order to cut costs and reshape a number of things under their corporate umbrella. We’ve seen CNN+ get canned, “Batgirl” shelved, and various Adult Swim programs get pulled from HBO Max. Perhaps you thought “well some animated shows getting removed from HBO Max isn’t such a big deal.” Well those cuts just got a lot bigger.
Despite being unceremoniously cancelled after season 4, “Westworld” has been one of the most prominent shows on HBO from its debut in 2016. It’s not the only surprising cancellation, considering “Lovecraft Country” was axed in 2021 despite its enormous critical success. But now “Westworld“ is being scrubbed from HBO Max all together. Perhaps its an effort to avoid paying royalties, or maybe its something like what is happening with another cancelled-and-pulled series, “Minx.” That series had already been renewed for a second season, and was reportedly nearing completion on it before news came down. Showrunners are apparently in the process of shopping that series around to other possible homes.
Zaslav wants to save over $3 billion in the Warner Bros. Discovery budget, seemingly by any means. If he doesn’t think a program can lure or retain new subscribers to HBO Max, why not ship it out somewhere else in exchange for money? It makes sense at face value, but it’s also the kind of thing that can turn away subscribers, supporters, and fans. It’s also another indicator about how digital platforms are not archival libraries of shows, they’re just a presentation of what a network wants to offer the public and that can change at any moment.
The Joss Whedon-created series “The Nevers” is also being removed from HBO Max. The problematic filmmaker was removed from the project before the series premiere. The series wasn’t even through with its first season though. Its freshman year was divided up into two halves with only the first half making it to air. Maybe the second half will show up somewhere else, but safe to say, the Victorian Era, sci-fi drama, probably won’t be getting another season.
In fairness to HBO Max, they’re not the only streaming platform to pull their own programming. In September, Netflix removed their very first original series “Hemlock Grove” from their platform. If there’s a moral to be had in this story, it’s that despite our advancement into the digital age of streaming, nothing is guaranteed to the viewer.
Physical media has a legitimate importance in terms of being able to access things when and if you want to.