HBO Max Just Axed 6 Streaming-Exclusive Movies

Warner Bros. Discovery dropped at least six Warner Bros. movies released exclusively to HBO Max in an odd move noticed just hours after the company's decision to scrap the nearly-completed Batgirl and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt. The Anne Hathaway-starring 2020 remake of The Witches and Seth Rogen's An American Pickle are among those missing from the streamer. Streaming platforms regularly cycle through licensed content, but it's unusual for a streaming platform to remove its exclusive content.

The movies that disappeared are Moonshot, starring Lana Condor and Cole Sprouse; the Melissa McCarthy-starring Superintelligence; The Witches; An American Pickle; Doug Liman's Locked Down with Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor; and Angel Manuel Soto's Charm City Kings. All six films were Max Originals, reports Variety. Reddit users spoke out about the disappearing movies in a discussion about Batgirl's cancellation. None of these films were included on HBO Max's list of movies leaving in August.

It also appears that the LeBron James-produced House Party reboot has been scrapped. The movie, produced by the basketball star's SpringHill, was set to be released on HBO Max on July 28. However, House Party has disappeared from the release schedule.

Streaming platforms commonly add and remove content, but usually those movies and shows are licensed or because a streaming deal has expired. (This is why the Harry Potter movies are leaving HBO Max this month, even though they were made by Warner Bros., and are now available on Peacock.) What's strange about this situation is that streamers usually don't remove exclusive content. There are rarely cases of Netflix removing an original movie, for example. 

Warner Bros. Discovery hasn't commented on the reason for these six movies being removed, but Variety speculates this could be a way of getting underperforming movies off the books or making some revenue out of them. If you're a fan of Cole Sprouse and want to see Moonshot now, you'll have to pay to rent through third-party VOD platforms. Moonshot was only available on HBO Max for about three months.

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This is the latest head-scratching move from Warner Bros. Discovery, which has aggressively cut costs by eliminating TBS shows and two movies that were almost complete. Warner Bros. reportedly spent $90 million on Batgirl, while the Scoob! sequel cost about $40 million. Insiders told Variety the company will take a tax write-down on the movies, seeing this as the best way to recoup costs. If they do that, it means both projects could never be monetized. The move is also part of Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav's strategy to shift the studio's focus on making movies for theaters before they reach HBO Max, a rejection of former Warner Bros. chief Jason Kilar's controversial decision to release all 2021 movies on HBO Max the same day they hit theaters.

"The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership's strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max," a Warner Bros. spokesperson said late Tuesday. "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."