Warner Bros. Discovery’s Hellacious War on Animation and Creativity

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*Before you read this article, please note that this is the opinion of the writer. Thank you, and enjoy reading.*

For the past five days, it seemed that Warner Bros Discovery has been on a warpath. The company has canceled projects left and right including films such as Batgirl, citing a possible tax write-off loophole. But it would seem that the animation area is the most under attack.

At the beginning of this hot mess, the company removed thirty-seven animated series, twenty-five of the shows that were listed were HBO Max Originals. The company only offered little or vague explanations as to why they were removed.

As we work toward bringing our content catalogs together under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offering available on both HBO Max and discovery+. That will include the removal of some content from both platforms.

At the same time, we’re already starting to bring our content catalogs together like the launch of the new CNN Originals Hub on discovery+ and a curated collection of Magnolia Network content coming soon to HBO Max.

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Even though it was hinted that some of the shows would possibly be auctioned off to other streaming platforms, according to a Q2 earnings call with Zaslav, there aren’t any details at this time. The move has caused these titles to become very difficult to legally access via streaming or linear broadcast.

As expected, the artists and animators involved in these shows were upset to learn about the removal. For example, Summer Camp Island was pretty popular with a sixth and final season ready to go. Now the final season sits in Limbo. Creator Julia Pott had this to say about the cancellation:

Two more creators weighed in on the cancellations, Aaron Burdette of Close Enough and Owen Dennis, Creator of Infinity Train were very critical of the Company’s move. According to The Mary Sue’s Chelsea Steiner, Owen also spoke more about the situation on his blog.

“Shitty… I think the way that Discovery went about this is incredibly unprofessional, rude, and just straight up slimy. I think most everyone who makes anything feels this way. Across the industry, talent is mad, agents are mad, lawyers and managers are mad, even execs at these companies are mad. I can’t think of a single person who works in animation and entertainment that, when you bring this all up, doesn’t say ‘What the fuck are they doing? How do they plan to have anyone ever want to work with them again?’”

Owen Dennis, Creator of the Infinity Train Animated Series
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The situation got worse for other shows too. Seven more titles are no longer going to HBO MAX. The titles include Batman: Caped Crusader, The Amazing World of Gumball: The Movie, Merry Little Batman, Bye Bye Bunny: A Looney Tunes Musical, The Day the Earth Blew Up: A Looney Tunes Movie, Did I Do That to the Holidays: A Steve Urkel Story, and finally, Driftwood.

This event got the attention of fans, news websites, and even the media, as Comedian John Oliver ripped their new parent company for its recent actions. Oliver described it as “a series of tax write-offs to appease Wall Street.” But he wasn’t the only comedian to attack their new parent company, as Adam Conover, host of the Discovery-Owned Network, Tru TV’s “Adam Ruins Everything!” laid into the company as well.

According to the New York Post, Conover, whose show was axed after Time Warner and AT&T merged in 2018, said in his video which he tweeted: “Do you guys remember when the promise of streaming video was that there’d be a huge library where even niche shows would be available to watch forever? Well, screw that.”

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With what has been going on with Warner Bros Discovery, the new owner needs to realize that Animation is a part of what made the company so great. It is a part of history and the creators, artists, voice actors, and animators who put their blood, sweat, and tears into their work deserve to have their work to be shown to the world and shown respect for what they have done. If you want to compete with companies such as Walt Disney, Nickelodeon, and Netflix, who have invested in animation, and other projects such as the films and shows that were taken off by the said company, then you believe in it, and be willing to give these talented people a chance and not delete/block their work immediately.

Unfortunately, Warner Bros Discovery took a different route and stabbed their employees in the back by taking their current approach. You can try to claim your “losses” on your taxes to avoid paying creator residuals, but the one thing money can’t buy you is Respect.

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