David Zaslav is still in the early months as Warner Bros. Discovery CEO but his legacy is going to be the importance of physical media.
Cancelling Batgirl and Scoob were only the start for the WBD CEO. What he is doing is dangerous and is setting a bad precedent. If canceling films were not enough, HBO Max is pulling content left and right from the streaming service. Many of which, in recent weeks, have been children’s programming. I mean, Sesame Street saw some 200 or so episodes removed and next thing you know, they’re just uploading them onto YouTube. Not every show can be as lucky. When it comes to linear and non-linear rights, Zaslav is hurting the creative industry at its core by removing their ability to be paid. You have a CEO, new to the whole Warner Bros. environment, that is cutting, cutting, and cutting. There are ways to cut $3 billion in spending but this is not it.
Every time I see HBO Max in the news, my immediate thought is: WHAT NOW?!? We’re seeing it on Monday night with the news that HBO Max is canceling several shows in development at the streamer. One of the shows is none other than Batman: Caped Crusader from Bruce Timm, J.J. Abrams, and Matt Reeves. Maybe it will find a home as the series–like others of late–is already deep in production. Warner Bros. Animation is the studio behind five of six series getting the ax today and Variety reports that production will continue. All six series will hopefully find a new home but we’ll just have to see how things play out. But still, Batman: The Animated Series is one of the biggest Batman series to date and the new show is said to be building on it. Give me a break!
David Zaslav is hurting artists by removing programs and taking away a source of residual payments. While home viewers lose out on a favorite program, the artists are losing out on their income. Or even worse, they’re losing out on healthcare. Depending on the guild, they’re earning residual money directly or it goes back into the guild to cover healthcare costs. I’ve read a lot about how the early studio moguls behaved and treated their employees. Columbia’s Harry Cohn was quite the tyrant on the lot but this is something else. I have a lot of words for Christopher Nolan wanting to release Tenet into theaters during a global pandemic but Zaslav’s treatment of artists is coming off even worse.
David Zaslav has dug himself into a deeper hole than Ted Sarandos and Bob Chapek combined. There’s no love lost when it comes to Sarandos defending transphobic comedy. I still think Chapek could have handled things differently when it came to anti-LGBTQ laws in Florida. I’m still not stepping foot inside a state where it is not safe to be transgender. Never mind my own feelings about Warner Bros. doing business with a known transphobic author of young adult books. David Zaslav is hurting his own company and it’s showing all of us just how important it is to own our favorite movies and series on physical media. The sad part of this is that not everything is available. If a series is heavy on licensed music, it might not even be on home video. One season might perform poorly and future releases get canceled in the process.
I cannot stress the importance of physical media enough. Look into your local library if it is not on a streaming service. While I am at it, can someone–anyone–please release The Heartbreak Kid on Blu-ray? I’m not talking about the recent remake but the original film that is currently–checks notes–out of print and not streaming anywhere. Invest in physical media because, as we’ve seen time and time again, streaming is not permanent.
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