With Warner Bros. Discovery drawing new scrutiny for shelving its completed Batgirl movie, users have noticed that six HBO Max original movies vanished from the streaming service without announcement or warning. Those films are sci-fi rom-com Moonshot, dystopian comedy Superintelligence, Robert Zemeckis' The Witches remake, Seth Rogen's comedy An American Pickle, the Doug Liman heist film Locked Down, and Charm City Kings. Also, the House Party reboot that had been scheduled for release on July 28th was removed from the streaming service's release schedule. The removals of these films were noted by users on Reddit while discussing Warner Bros. Discovery's surprising Batgirl decision.
Variety speculates that the removals of these films are part of CEO David Zaslav's attempts to slash costs across the recently merged company -- which has also seen Warner Bros. Discovery backing off from its investments in The CW -- ahead of its second-quarter earnings report on Thursday by getting "streaming-content payment obligations for underperforming titles off its books." With House Party, not releasing the film at all allows for the company to account for it as a tax write-down, as it will likely do with Batgirl and another shelved release, Scoob! Holiday Haunt. Warner Bros. Discovery has not commented on the films' removals, and the films remain available to rent or purchase via various video-on-demand services.
A Warner Bros. Discovery spokesperson released a statement about Batgirl's shelving. The intent seemed to be to protect star Leslie Grace from assumptions that the studio scrapped the release due to her performance:
"The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership's strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max. Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future."
The sudden shelving of Batgirl has left many fans angry and others wondering what this means for the future of DC Films, a franchise that has already seen many shifts in strategies over the years. Currently, the future of The Flash movie remains uncertain amid scandals involving star Ezra Miller. Michael Keaton had been set to return as Batman in both Batgirl and The Flash, but perhaps this move means more of Ben Affleck in the role as the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice star is already set to appear opposite his Justice League co-star Jason Momoa in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.