Another day, another set of changes at Warner Bros Discovery (re: HBO Max) that will have major ramifications for Warners going forward.
It was tax that killed the Batgirl
Like a production of Springtime For Hitler, the reason Warner Bros Discovery canned the Batgirl movie made for streamer HBO Max was that it could write off the film as a tax loss. As Warner Bros Discovery search for ways to save $3b as it seeks to eliminate debt (thereby making the company more attractive to be acquired once more), the company is looking for opportunities like this to save money.
The justification for this was a change in strategy - HBO Max is now no longer in the business of producing upper mid-budget movies exclusively for streaming. And it had no appetite to release the film into theatres, which would have added $30 million+ in marketing costs.
The decision to can Batgirl may have been made far easier following recent test screenings:
Those tests were said to be so poorly received by moviegoers that the studio decided to cut its losses and run, for the sake of the brand’s future. It’s a DC disaster.
“They think an unspeakable ‘Batgirl’ is going to be irredeemable,” the source said.
HBO Max cans Little Ellen
Vanity animated project Little Ellen has been cancelled ahead of the debut of its third season. A third season that, despite being produced, will likely never be released. This is another effort by HBO Max to write-off the production for tax purposes. If you're unfamiliar with the show, it is about a seven year old Ellen DeGeneres.
The show follows a “hilarious” and “imaginative” seven-year-old Ellen, who finds fun and adventure in New Orleans with her wise and eccentric Gramsy, musical best friend Freckle, fashion-forward cousin Becky and clever cat Charlie.
Worth noting, it was Deadline that put quotations around "hilarious" and "imaginative," but real talk: I probably would have done that anyway.
HBO Max quietly removes six original films
Six HBO max original feature films have been quietly removed:
- The Witches
- An American Pickle
- Locked Down
- Charm City Kings
Plenty of other HBO Max original features remain on platform. It is assumed that these titles were removed simply because they cost money to be made available on platform, but weren't driving enough viewership to support their availability. The deal structures for movies are really very different to TV shows.
HUGE: Days of Our Lives leaves NBC after 57 years... for Peacock?
Is this the beginning of the end for Days of Our Lives? Starting Sept 12 anyone wanting to watch Days of Our Lives (DOOL) in the US will not find it on broadcast TV as has been the case for what may be the entirety of their lives. Instead, episodes will be released daily on NBC Universal-owned streamer Peacock.
In its place on NBC will be a daily NBC news program titled, wait for it: NBC News Daily.
Clearly execs are emboldened by the success of the two recent Beyond Salem DOOL mini-series on Peacock, so believe enough of the audience will migrate over to the streamer. And I get the thinking: If a loyal audience can be persuaded to follow a beloved show over to Peacock, it then creates an audience of loyal, rarely-churning subscribers.
But here's the thing...
Back in 2013 the long-running All My Children and One Life To Live made the move from broadcast to online distribution by way of Hulu. They debuted on streaming April 2013 and both were cancelled by December of that year.
What they found was that audiences couldn't adapt to on-demand video for a daily soap. The way people watch soaps is that you turn it on when you're at home, but if you need to be out for whatever reason, you can just watch the next episode and pick up the storyline where it is at - soap storytelling moves at a glacial pace for this reason. Audiences on streaming, when they miss an episode, do the obvious, natural thing: they go back and watch the previous episode next on demand. But audiences who missed multiple episodes kept on banking up more and more episodes until it just became too hard to watch them all and they just stopped.
Now, 2013 and 2022 are very different. Streaming is very different and audiences engagement with streamers is far more mature. But unless Peacock is clever with the UI on platform and push the idea that viewers should prioritise the latest episode... it is just going to be All My Children all over again.
What worked for a limited TV mini-series soap doesn't necessarily apply to a daily soap that runs most weeks of the year.
- New Doctor Who Ncuti Gatwa will keep his foot in TV for grown-ups with the 4th season of Sex Education. Read: TV Line
- Expect fewer Starbucks cups in the new House of The Dragon TV show. Read: THR
- Film distributor Neon, responsible international distribution of Parasite, is considering putting itself up for sale. Read: Screen Daily
- Telstra has completed its majority acquisition of Fetch TV. Read: Mediaweek
- Fargo s5 will be more comedic in tone. Read: THR
- FYI, Lightyear is now streaming on Disney+.
- Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo will star in an 8-episode still-untitled orphan drama for Hulu. It is her first role playing a different character in almost two decades Read: Deadline
- Because Ellen Pompeo is starring in the new Hulu drama, she will have a reduced presence in the new season of Grey's Anatomy. Just 8 episodes. Read: Deadline
- Netflix cancelled vampire drama First Kill after one season. Read: Dark Horizons
The magnificent The Good Fight finishes for good with its sixth and final season, starting Sept 18. My lord - look at the cast for this season...
Pour yourself a stiff drink, Viagra: The Little Blue Pill That Changed The World will be a hard one to watch. But it debuts on Discovery+ August 12.
Dragons: The Nine Realms debuts on Peacock August 18.
Royalteen debuts August 17 on Netflix
That's it for today. Tomorrow: yet another newsletter.