HBO Max announced some major animation cancellations this summer, but one nearly went unnoticed – the brand new project in development called Driftwood. HBO Max announced Driftwood as an original film back in May, but months later it suddenly began to cancel projects and downsize its animation plans overall. Towards the end of August, several of the animators behind Driftwood made social media posts indicating that it was canceled as well.
Driftwood was written by artist Victor Courtwright, and it would have been a 90-minute feature film, according to a report by Collider. In the time between its announcement and its apparent cancellation, HBO Max went from a promising, growing home for animated projects to slew of sadly dropped projects. The movie's logline read: "an animated space opera with big laughs, heart, and adventure the whole family can enjoy."
Working on this was such a treat. The whole crew is amazing and we all were so excited to share this. Now, I’m just heartbroken that no one will see more than this poster https://t.co/Z4oDbvOyOb— Finnjamin Button (@Dhubetter) August 22, 2022
Courtwright is best known for working on the acclaimed animated miniseries Aquaman: King of Atlantis, which he helped adapt from a comic book arc by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger. (Aquaman: King of Atlantis was also notably one of the shows HBO Max recently purged from its back catalog.) Courtwright has not made any public comments on the cancellation, but others involved in the project have shared their disappointment on Twitter.
"Everyone on the Driftwood team has put their everything into this movie and it's heartbreaking seeing it go this way. Thank you to everyone for your incredible work," wrote storyboard supervisor Charlie Bryant. Warner Bros. Animation's Jen Hurler added: "This film was shaping up to be so fantastic and meaningful. I was so thrilled to have been a small part of such a gorgeous, original 2d animated film from a voice like Victor and a studio like CNS. F-ing sucks."
"Driftwood is the best film you could have ever imagined," wrote artist Bryan Mann. "I'm so proud to have worked with this all star team. I learned so much from the crew and in my heart I know everyone who was a part of this project will make beautiful work no matter where they are."
The Driftwood crew is mourning in some vague and some not-so-vague ways online. https://t.co/NkGEsmRf4f— Rollin Bishop (@rollinbishop) August 22, 2022
It's not clear if any of the work done on Driftwood so far will ever see the light of day — like so many other projects canceled by HBO Max recently. The streamer is preparing to combine with Discovery+ sometime next year, and it has been making some serious cuts in the meantime, especially when it comes to animation. Many fans are hoping that the programs dropped from HBO Max will eventually be available elsewhere.