Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has unceremoniously announced that it will be dropping a large number of titles from its HBO Max streaming service this week. The company provided no logical reason for why it is purging its animation catalog.
In total, 37 titles, 25 of them animation including several Max Originals, are on the cutting block. Here are all the animation titles being removed from the service:
- Aquaman: King of Atlantis
- Close Enough
- Elliott From Earth
- Esme & Roy
- The Fungies!
- Infinity Train
- Little Ellen
- Mao Mao, Heroes of Pure Heart
- Messy Goes to Okido
- Mia’s Magic Playground
- Mighty Magiswords
- My Dinner with Herve
- OK K.O.! – Let’s Be Heroes
- The Ollie & Moon Show
- Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
- Select Sesame Street Specials
- Summer Camp Island
- The Runaway Bunny – Special
- Tig n’ Seek
- Uncle Grandpa
- Victor and Valentino
- Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs
In a brief release, WBD gave this explanation:
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.
No further details have been offered about why these specific titles were cut, or any future plans for the removed series. Cartoon Brew has reached out to WBD for comment, but did not immediately receive any response.
There is speculation that Warner might auction off some of the shows to other platforms. Zaslav hinted at that possibility during Warner Bros. Discovery’s Q2 earnings call, explaining that, “Some of the content we create will be distributed on our platforms… and some will lay on other platforms…”
Regardless of Warner’s long-term plans for the removed series, for now at least, some of these titles will be difficult to legally access via streaming or linear broadcast. Warner hasn’t made it clear if shows available to HBO subscribers on demand will stay available after they’re dropped from Max.
Understandably, artists who worked on the shows are upset.
Summer Camp Island was one of the most surprising removals considering the show’s cult following and the fact that there is a completed sixth and final season of the show that will now sit in limbo. Creator Julia Pott tweeted:
We worked for 5 years to make 100 episodes of animation. We worked late into the night, we let ourselves go, we were a family of hard-working artists who wanted to make something beautiful, and HBO MAX just pulled them all like we were nothing. Animation is not nothing! and we worked through the pandemic to make 20 linear episodes that are our most beautiful work yet. I cannot wait for you to see them. YOU WILL SEE THEM! I will not rest!
Aaron Burdette, writer and co-executive producer of Close Enough, posted his thoughts on the cuts, saying:
cool, love to work on something for literal years and then have it totally vanish, it’s extremely good that TV writing has become building sandcastles at high tide.
Infinity Train creator Owen Dennis updated his Twitter profile to include a tongue-in-cheek suggestion of how fans might be able to see the show in the future:
Creator of #InfinityTrain, a show that got pulled from @HBOMax and can now only be pirated.
Creators of shows elsewhere have also taken notice of the situation and expressed their disapproval of HBO Max’s slipshod approach to deleting content from its library. Hamish Steele, creator of Netflix’s Dead End: Paranormal Park, tweeted about a fear of erasure that is increasingly common among industry artists today:
What’s happening at HBO Max is so scary from a creator perspective? Like making a show for a streamer, you rarely get a chance for a physical release, or for it to air anywhere else, and being reminded they can just delete it from existence, all your work, your portfolio, awful!
Pictured at top: “Close Enough,” “Summer Camp Island,” “Infinity Train”