The shocking decision to pull the Batgirl movie from HBO Max’s release calendar has brought a lot of attention to the streaming service and its library. If the company would shelve a massive potential blockbuster (featuring Michael Keaton’s return as Batman after 30 years), what else might they be doing to cut corners and save money?
For one thing, it appears that they have quietly been taking down some of their bigger streaming premieres of recent months. As observed by various sources, several of HBO Max’s big exclusives are now no longer streaming. The titles include Superintelligence, a comedy starring Melissa McCarthy, the Covid heist movie Locked Down starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anne Hathaway, the romantic comedy Moonshot, the drama Charm City Kings, and the Seth Rogen time travel comedy An American Pickle. Plus, maybe the biggest movie of them all, Robert Zemeckis’ star-studded remake of The Witches with Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, and Chris Rock. (Yep, HBO Max is down two Anne Hathaway movies.)
According to Variety, all six of the movies that have been removed from the library were previously branded as “Max Originals.” Other Max Original films, like On the Record and Class Action Park, are still available as of this writing.
While HBO Max adds and subtracts titles from its library every single month, there was no warning that these movies would be removed in the company’s monthly press release to journalists listing the upcoming movies coming and going on streaming. And it comes amidst the news that the new leadership at HBO Max’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery is cutting costs and canceling projects.
While I’m not sure many people will miss these movies — we reviewed An American Pickle, which was fine, we did not review The Witches, which was pretty bad — it seems very surprising that a streaming service would pull down its own original titles, when those have been considered the primary way to boost subscriber numbers in recent years. Does this move point to a shift in the future of streaming services that might involve fewer original streaming movies? Or is this simply a case of the new bosses at a company undoing some of the decisions the previous bosses made, which tends to happen at a lot of businesses in a lot of fields?
In any event, if you want to watch any of these films, they are still available elsewhere — for rent or purchase.