Batgirl - Barbara Gordon in 2022?

It’s just absolutely wild to me that a CEO can look at a situation where a premium product, with a prestigious (if a bit wonky) brand name, that has three or four times more customers than a cheaper product that peddles in cheap-as-hell, dime-a-dozen products and come away with, “Clearly, we need to get rid of the former and go with the latter.”

Then again, this is setting up to be yet another classic “CEO, Master of the Universe blunder.”

How about I pay a $5 premium to NOT have the Discovery programming?

Man I totally missed the news – or at least didn’t realize the implications – of the Discovery/Warner merger. Surely they won’t totally kill HBO Max? They’ll want a streaming home for the HBO shows for people who don’t have a cable. That’s a growing chunk of the population – they wouldn’t axe it completely. I would hate to see them lose all of the original programming, but as long as I can still get the HBO stuff SOMEWHERE online I suppose I’ll accept it. I don’t watch a LOT of the originals, but enough that I hope they don’t go away entirely. Peacemaker, Harley Quinn, Titans…enjoyed season 1 of Flight Attendant, but haven’t watched S2 yet. Sounds like I’d better get to it!

I have HBO Max free with my AT&T fiber sub…bet that won’t last too much longer.

One of the issues cited by some reports is that HBO/Warner was playing fast and loose with their numbers prior to the merger. They said they had “76 million subscribers” for HBO Max, but it turns out that they were including all the free subs people got for having HBO on cable anyway.

In both cases, the filmmakers were told that it came down to a “purchase accounting” maneuver available to Warner Discovery because the company has changed hands, and also changed strategy from the previous regime. This opportunity expires in mid-August, said sources, and it allows Warner Bros Discovery to not have to carry the losses on its books at a time when the studio is trying to pare down $3 billion in debt across its divisions.

Much of the decision came down to the following: Warner Bros Discovery boss David Zaslav rejecting of Kilar’s strategy to lean heavily into building streaming subscriptions for HBO Max. That was punctuated by his Project Popcorn initiative that put the entire 2021 theatrical slate — including Dune, Godzilla Vs Kong, King Richard, Matrix 4 — day and date in theaters and on HBO Max when theater attendance was sparse during the pandemic. Even after he was shown the door, Kilar continued to call the strategy a win. Many did not agree, particularly after Top Gun: Maverick waited and grossed north of $1.3 billion. It’s a decidedly different world from when Kilar made the move. Wall Street is no longer impressed by subscriber numbers as much as profits, as seen by the precipitous decline of Netflix’s stock value.

Companies have come around to philosophies espoused by the likes of Sony’s Tom Rothman and Universal’s Donna Langley, that films gain cultural relevance when they first debut in theaters with an appreciable theatrical spend. When they appear on streaming sites 45 days or so later, they are prized because they have cultural relevance.

Warner Bros Discovery just released this statement: “The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max. Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.”

The purchase accounting thing it is then.

Though of course in that second case you’re back where you’ve started with effectively two services, just with a bunch of confused customers who don’t know why the service they had changed.

The more I think about this, the less sense it makes to merge the services. They’re different products, with different audiences, charging different prices. Trying to mash them together as if they’re the same may actually interfere with your ability to make money.

It’s like McDonalds and Chipotle - McDonalds bought Chipoltle for a while there, but never managed to make it work because what Chipotle was good at was antithetical to what McDonalds was good at and vice versa.

… Why exactly does that matter? It’s people paying to subscribe to HBO, branded as HBO, either way.

(And of course they’re far from the only service to be bundled. There are a lot of people out there who have Hulu not because they wanted Hulu, but because they wanted D+ and ESPN, and it was cheaper to get them both with Hulu thrown in. But it’s not like Hulu excludes those people from their subscriber numbers.)

This movie must have been legendarily terrible to just toss $90m in the toilet. I hope we get to see it one day.

I’m assuming it was studio politics of some kind. I mean, they’ve had rushes, early edits, all kinds of opportunity to know what the production group was doing all this time.

And probably anyone with a relatively new AT&T wireless sub - it’s a pretty low phone plan tier to get Max included, so the number getting it through that (like me) has to be big.

The studio spent 90 million dollars, and decided to just throw the movie away, not even attempting to recover any of that investment. That isn’t politics, the movie must be unreleasably bad, to such an extent that it can’t be fixed in edits or even reshoots.

You may be underestimating the number of people who watch the Discovery reality TV shows and the relative lack of cost to make them, versus the number of people watching prestige HBO Max shows and movies. It may be a dumb move to us and short sighted, but the G/L figures could be so different that culling some streaming shows makes sense. It is crazy how much prestige streaming content is getting churned out with little care by the streamers today for the cost of it all - that gravy train has to end sooner or later.

It matters if you’re trying to show the investors and new owners that HBO Max is worth the investment. Net new subs and active service users are better metrics if you’re trying to show that your new streaming app is attracting customers and warrants premium exclusive shows and movies.

If 30 million of that 76 million were subscribers to HBO through cable anyway, then you haven’t really made a service that attracted 76 million people. You’ve only gained 46 million while the rest were already paying for HBO. (Note that no one outside of WBD knows the true numbers of new subs versus old HBO customers at this point.) Zaslav’s strategy is based on the idea that those HBO customers aren’t going anywhere anyway, so just let them watch HBO on cable or Discovery+ and push tentpole movies back to the theater.

I don’t think it has to be truly bad to jibe with the reported reasons behind this decision. It only needs to be “not good enough for the theater.”

They spent $90 million to make a movie good enough for streaming, so it’s likely pretty cheesy and mediocre. Think of most of the Netflix exclusive movies. If released as-is in a theatrical run it might barely break even, but it would more likely slightly bomb thanks to the marketing they’d have to do.

They could dump another $100-$150 million into reshoots and better VFX to get it up to theater tentpole status, but the core of the movie is still going to feel like a “premium” streaming offer, kinda meh, so it’s a gamble that could lose them a lot more money.

Or they could can it and take the tax write off. No gamble there at all and when your mandate is “cut all costs and get WB/HBO to the same profit level as Discovery” that’s a lot more attractive. Especially when you’ve already started chopping heads and cutting projects to rein in spending.

No, the alternative is to put it on HBO Max as originally intended, so you can at least get something back from your investment.

Get what? Batgirl isn’t going to bring in any new subs. Plus, they may be killing HBO Max.

Yeah, releasing stuff on HBO Max doesn’t DIRECTLY bring in more money. It adds value to the current service, and better value = more subscribers, but Batgirl isn’t going to add value to a service that already has something like The Batman and other DC fare. It would’ve fit, IF it were 100% finished, but it seems like it still needed post-production work, which means they would’ve had to put more money into it, and really truthfully, probably wouldn’t have made any money off of it. I kinda get it.

They might axe HBO Max originally programming, but I’ll be SHOCKED if they don’t keep it around with what it currently has, plus as a streaming option for whatever runs on HBO the cable channel.

It’s possible, of course, but I’ll be very surprised.

Within the past few weeks, at least six Warner Bros. movies have been removed from HBO Max: “Moonshot,” a sci-fi rom-com starring Lana Condor and Cole Sprouse; artificial-intelligence dystopia comedy “Superintelligence,” starring Melissa McCarthy; Robert Zemeckis’ 2020 remake of “The Witches,” starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci and Chris Rock; comedy “An American Pickle,” starring Seth Rogen as an immigrant who wakes up after being pickled for 100 years; Doug Liman heist pic “Locked Down” with Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor; and drama “Charm City Kings” from director Angel Manuel Soto.

Content is content, even if it’s crappy. People like bat, err, people. Hard to believe shitcanning would bring in more value than putting it on the service.

That’s not a good sign. I was meaning to watch those! I had already seen American Pickle, which was great.