UPDATE: 6:58 p.m. — Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav addressed reports that HBO Max would cut back on scripted content during a second-quarter earnings call on Thursday.
“Our strategy is to embrace and support and drive the incredible success that HBO Max is having. The culture and the taste of [head of content at HBO and HBO Max Casey Bloys] and the team. And the fact that they not only read the scripts but they fight with all the creatives to make the content and storytelling as strong as possible. It’s at a very unique moment. We think it’s an extraordinary asset. It’s an extraordinary advantage. I’ve said this before; it’s not how much. It’s how good,” Zaslav said.
The CEO mentioned that Bloys is at the company for the next five years, and the Warner Bros. Discovery team hopes he stays on for longer.
According to Zaslav, Warner Bros. Discovery has the goal to make content on HBO Max broader with an influx of projects from Discovery+ and CNN as the company looks to create a unified SVOD service. And HBO Max’s scripted content isn’t in trouble.
“We’re going to spend dramatically more this year and next year than we spent last year and the year before,” Zaslav said.
Layoffs are coming to HBO Max.
The Wrap reports Warner Bros. Discovery plans to lay off 70% of the streamer’s development business, including significant layoffs for HBO Max executives and staff, to “minimize redundancies with HBO and a combined streaming service with Discovery+.”
The entertainment news outlet says the major restructuring to both HBO Max and Discovery+ will be announced during the Warner Bros. Discovery earnings call on Thursday or shortly thereafter.
HBO Max is also moving away from making scripted TV content (dubbed “Max Originals”) in favor of increasing unscripted offerings, The Wrap reports.
Warner Bros. Discovery shocked the world earlier this week when it revealed that the feature film adaptation of the DC Comics character Batgirl would no longer be released on any platform, neither theatrically or on HBO Max.
Multiple explanations have been given why the studio shelved a film it had already spent $90 million on, including poor reception by moviegoers, monetary concerns and a strategist shift in leadership at the company.
On Wednesday, reports surfaced that HBO Max had quietly removed six Warner Bros. films over the past few weeks as part of what appears to be a larger tax write-off.
The titles removed include Superintelligence, Moonshot, the 2020 remake of Witches, An American Pickle, Charm City Kings and Locked Down.
Warner Bros. Discovery previously stated it anticipates cutting $3 billion in expenditures over the next two years and investing the savings in streaming content.