With fans still in shock over Warner Bros. Discovery’s cancellation of the HBO Max original film Batgirl, it seems like there’s a lot more change coming to the streaming network.
According to The Wrap, HBO Max’s scripted development could see 70 percent of its staff cut. Insiders are speculating that division will be run by HBO, with the streamer putting out significantly less original content.
What this means for audiences is less diverse projects. Instead of scrapping films and series that haven’t been filmed yet, Warner Bros. Discovery specifically chose Batgirl, a film with a Latina lead, a transgender Asian supporting actress and directors of Moroccan descent. It’s also removed several films starring actors of color from the streaming service.
I’m not here to accuse the studio of anything deliberate, but it somehow still managed to find the money for a sequel to its “angry white guy kills a bunch of people and incites a clown riot” movie. It also has plenty of room on HBO Max for Chip and Joanna Gaines’ predominantly white Magnolia Network series, including Fixer Upper.
When streaming took over Hollywood, one of the positives people cited was increased opportunity for more diverse and inclusive storytelling. These major shifts at HBO Max feel like a step back. Specifically when it comes to DC Comics properties. In the past, WB has focused its theatrical releases on the core group of Justice League heroes, deciding to use HBO Max to introduce supporting characters. In addition to Batgirl, it also announced Blue Beetle, which is currently in production, Static Shock, a teenage Black hero from Milestone Media and new seasons of Peacemaker, Doom Patrol and Titans, all shows with diverse casts. Now it feels like the whole universe is in question.
Considering that Discovery’s main focus is unscripted, these changes aren’t surprising, but they are very troubling. HBO is the network that gave us Insecure, A Black Lady Sketch Show, Lackawanna Blues, Rap Sh!t and The Wire.
If someone didn’t see more than dollar signs, we might have missed out on all that amazing art.